A project of New England Aquarium in conjunction with the partners and sponsors detailed below.
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Click on an animal's name for maps and more information.
The New England Aquarium (NEAq) has been rehabilitating stranded sea turtles for more than twenty years. The majority of sea turtles that are treated at NEAq come from annual cold stun stranding events on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA. Each fall and winter, juvenile and sub-adult sea turtles strand on Cape Cod beaches after experiencing cold-stunning. Cold stunning, or hypothermia, in sea turtles is thought to occur when water temperature quickly drops below 50ºF (10ºC). Sudden cooling of ocean water temperatures leaves the turtles torpid and floating at the surface, unable to swim or dive, and allows them to be tossed by strong sustained storm winds onto the windward shore. Since the 1980s, NEAq has worked with the Massachusetts Audubon Society’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary (WBWS) to save these threatened and endangered species. In recent years, the NOAA Woods Hole Science Aquarium and the National Marine Life Center have joined in our efforts. Both of these organizations can now treat sea turtles and have enhanced our ability to rehabilitate and release locally stranded sea turtles in Massachusetts waters.
NEAq has recently begun using satellite telemetry to study the post release survivorship of these rehabilitated turtles. In 2006, NEAq and WBWS purchased 5 satellite tags. Four of these tags were placed on endangered Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii) sea turtles and 1 was placed on a threatened loggerhead (Caretta caretta) sea turtle. Our primary goal is to learn about the survivorship of these animals. We will also be studying and observing their habitat use and migration routes post-release.
We wish to thank the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries for their continued support of the Massachusetts Sea Turtle Network.