Saturday, December 13, 2008

Herb the sea turtle heading for warmer sanctuary

Herb the sea turtle heading for warmer sanctuary

12/13/2008, 10:50 a.m. EST The Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) — His name is Herb, he's 75 pounds with a chestnut brown shell, and when the sea turtle was discovered on a Cape Cod beach earlier in the month, he was very, very cold.

Luckily, the volunteers from the Massachusetts Audubon Sanctuary at Wellfleet Bay who found Herb alerted officials, who transported him to the New England Aquarium in Boston.

Veterinarians and rescue biologists slowly warmed Herb about five degrees each day. When he was found on the Truro beach on Dec. 3, his body temperature was in the 40s. It's now a stable temperature in the low 70's.

That means Herb is ready to make another voyage — this time to the Riverhead Foundation in Long Island, a nonprofit dedicated to the rehabilitation and release of seals, whales, dolphins, and sea turtles.

Herb was the largest of the hypothermic sea turtle rescued from Cape Cod during the fall.

Most hypothermic sea turtles found on Cape Cod that survive are discovered before Thanksgiving. Herb's larger size helped protect him. Larger turtles lose heat more slowly than smaller turtles.

Herb is one of six loggerhead turtles that washed up late this season. They averaged about 50 pounds, and all have survived. Herb is still a a relatively young turtle, probably between 4 and 7 years old. As an adult, he will weigh 200 to 250 pounds.

Unfortunately many other sea turtles that wash ashore have not survived.

Rapidly dropping temperatures have caused a high number of endangered sea turtles to wash ashore dead on Cape Cod beaches.

© 2008 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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