Race is on to rescue stranded turtles

Dec. 6, 2010 at 11:17 AM   |   Comments

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BOSTON, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Volunteers in Massachusetts say they are rescuing an unprecedented number of endangered sea turtles stranded on Cape Cod beaches this winter.

Scientists and volunteers are finding juvenile sea turtles, mostly endangered Kemp's ridleys, in what is predicted to be the worst year on record for turtle strandings, The Boston Globe reported Monday.

More than 170 turtles have already been found on the cape, most of them transported to the New England Aquarium's Animal Care Center in Quincy.

"We are expecting more, because we are mostly seeing little ones," which are affected by the cold earlier in the season, said Connie Merigo, director of the aquarium's rescue and rehabilitation program.

This summer had the most sea turtles seen off Cape Cod in 40 years, officials said, suggesting many more may be stranded as water temperatures drop.

Kemp's ridley turtles become immobilized when water temperatures fall below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. They are unable to paddle, or even to feed, and ocean currents and winds drive them ashore.

Most turtles are found between Halloween and New Year's, after which water temperatures are usually too cold to allow even the largest to survive, the Globe reported.

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