Friday, October 24, 2008

Kemp's ridley turtle found stranded

BARNSTABLE — The first cold-stunned Kemp's ridley turtle of the stranding season was rescued in local waters yesterday, according to the Massachusetts Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.

The eight-pound turtle, which is about four years old, was found by two people walking along Sandy Neck Beach at around 2 p.m. yesterday, sanctuary director Robert Prescott said. The marine reptile was being taken to the New England Aquarium for rehabilitation last night, he said.

The turtle had an old boat propeller wound on its left front flipper, which likely weakened the animal, Prescott said. The turtle was driven to shore by high winds and the dropping water temperature, he added.

Sea turtles are cold-blooded, so their body temperatureis regulated by their environment. Late every fall, some wash up on shore when they become hypothermic after a sudden temperature drop, or if they have failed to migrate south before winter conditions arrive here. "This is the time of year" for local turtle strandings, Prescott said.

Kemp's ridley turtles are on the federal endangered species list, and no one but an authorized agent can handle them under federal law. Prescott asked that people call the sanctuary at 508-349-2615 if they see a distressed turtle.


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