Woods Hole to the (turtle) rescue

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Each turtle is numbered with a flipper band tag, and has the number on their shell. Photo courtesy NOAA Fisheries/Heather Soulen, NEFSC

The Woods Hole Science Aquarium is aiding in the recovery of six of the world’s most endangered sea turtles. The Kemp’s ridley sea turtles were found over the past few weeks on Cape Cod beaches. The turtles are the smallest of the endangered marine turtles, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s website. They were found washed ashore in November, having suffered from a cold stun, a type of hypothermia. Cold stuns are the result of sudden temperature drops in the water.

Several staff members of Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary were responsible for the rescue. The turtles were then sent to the New England Aquarium’s Animal Care Center in Quincy before moving on to Woods Hole. Each turtle’s condition is carefully evaluated by animal care specialists, and it is treated accordingly.

A short video of the healthy turtles, swimming around in a brand-new holding pool built specifically for turtle recovery can be seen on NOAA’s website. The turtles receive top-notch care from the specialists, including fluids for dehydration, antibiotics, x-rays, and regular blood tests. The pool is kept at a warm 75°.

“Each of the turtles is getting individual medical care depending on their condition, and all are doing well,” said Sarah Trudel, a staff member at the Woods Hole Aquarium, in the administration’s press release.

The center treats around 90 sea turtles each year, with a record 733 treated in 2014. The aquarium has been helping cold-stunned turtles since the 1990s.