By Staff reports
Wed Jul 30, 2008, 02:00 PM EDT
Five Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles were released on Dowses Beach in the village of Osterville Wednesday. The sea turtles – all juveniles – were found cold-stunned between November 2006 and January 2008, and rescued by volunteers from the Massachusetts Audubon Society Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.
Six regional marine animal organizations worked rehabilitation and release: New England Aquarium, National Marine Life Center, University of New England Marine Animal Rehabilitation Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Woods Hole Science Aquarium, and the Riverhead Foundation.
Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles are the world’s most endangered sea turtle, with only a few thousand breeding females known to exist in the wild. Kemp’s Ridleys are also among the smallest of the sea turtles, with adults weighing up to 100 pounds and reaching about two feet in length. The juveniles being released weigh 10 to 25 pounds. Kemp’s Ridleys range includes the Gulf coasts of Mexico and the United States, and the Atlantic coast of North America.
Late each fall, many juvenile sea turtles feeding in Cape Cod Bay fail to migrate south. Since the turtles are cold-blooded, their bodies assume the temperature of the water around them and they eventually become hypothermic. Some die at sea while others drift to shore. Volunteers from Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary rescue the turtles along the beach and transport them to rehabilitation centers. There the turtles are slowly warmed and treated for complications of hypothermia, including pneumonia and bone and joint problems. Sea turtle stranding season lasts from late October through December.
“Saving these critically endangered animals is essential to ocean conservation. We’re thrilled to be working alongside institutions such as the New England Aquarium, Marine Animal Rehabilitation Center, MassAudubon, Riverhead, and NOAA in the fight to save stranded sea turtles on Cape Cod” said Kathy Zagzebski, NMLC President and executive director.
Two of the turtles will be tagged prior to release to gather information about their post-release behavior, survival, migration and habitat, and to see how the rehabilitation techniques affect the turtles in the wild. “Lavender” is being fitted with a satellite tag that was funded by donors at NMLC’s 2007 Mermaid Ball fundraising gala. “Scooby Doo” will be fitted with a tag generously provided by the Riverhead Foundation. The satellite tags, which weigh less than 2 ounces, are attached to the turtles’ shells just behind their necks. Physical identification tags are also placed on the turtles’ flippers and a PIT tag just under their skin. The public may follow the turtles’ progress at www.seaturtle.org/tracking
Source: Wicked Local