Tuesday, November 30, 2010

November 27, 2010 - Cold-stunned Sea Turtles at Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary

After the morning's Seal & Seabird cruise, Krill and Nick stopped by the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary to see Bob Prescott about a report of a dead ocean sunfish that washed ashore at Linell Landing. When they arrived, they found Bob in the Nature Center's wet lab getting 5 live Kemp ridley sea turtles ready for transport to a rehab facility in Quincy. These endangered sea turtles had recently cold-stunned and washed ashore on various Cape beaches over the Thanksgiving holiday.

To learn more, please read the article at the end of this post that was just posted today on Cape Cod Times online. This article provides an overview of the sea turtle rescues this season.

Bob Prescott is the Director of MA Audubon at Wellfleet Bay and a long-time friend and supporter of NECWA. Bob has been instrumental in helping Krill with ocean sunfish necropsies and internal examinations. Not only is Bob extremely knowledgeable about many marine animals, but he truly enjoys learning about unusual species like Mola mola. As Bob was carefully packing each young sea turtle in its own banana box, he explained how these sea turtles had come ashore that night for they were cold-stunned due to the dropping water temperatures.

Bob also spent time talking with and upating visitors to the Nature Center who noticed the sea turtles in their banana boxes in the entranceway of the facility. Bob explained how it was important to keep the body temperature of these sea turtles cool until they reach their final destination, the New England Aquarium rehabilitation facility in Quincy, MA.

Soon the volunteer driver arrived at the Nature Center and she discussed with Bob the directions for the new rehab facility. As soon as all the paperwork was completed, it was time to load the 5 Kemp ridley’s sea turtles into the volunteer’s Prius. Nick and Krill helped carry the banana boxes containing their precious cargo to the parking lot as Bob expertly stacked the boxes in the back seat.

As Bob, Krill and Nick waved goodbye, they wished the sea turtles a safe journey and a quick recovery. Given the endangered status of this species, each individual counts. And even though the majority of sea turtles that strand along our shores are juveniles, they represent the future hope for this rare species.

If you live on Cape Cod and are interested in walking beaches to rescue cold-stunned sea turtles, please call the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Center. You will need to attend a brief workshop where you will learn the correct procedures and protocols used during sea turtle rescue efforts. Not only will you get lots of great exercise when walking beaches in search of sea turtles, but you will be helping out an endangered species that is in great need.

We hope you will visit the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary in the future months. The Nature Center is fabulous as are the trails that lead you right down to the waters of Cape Cod Bay. The Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary offers many different programs for adults and children and they conduct a number of important research programs on Cape Cod.

Becoming a member of MA Audubon will help Bob and his staff continue to rescue cold-stunned sea turtles and will support the critically important work they do for the benefit of terrestrial and aquatic wildlife in the New England area. Don’t forget, an Audubon membership makes you eligible for discounts on their programs and public activities.

Turtles strand in high numbers on Cape


Even turtle experts are stunned at the recent pace of cold-stunned turtle season on Cape Cod.

From Thursday through midday Monday, 85 sea turtles in trouble were plucked from area beaches.

"This certainly could be a record stranding year," said Robert Prescott, director of the Massachusetts Audubon Society's Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. "They're being found anywhere from Sandy Neck in Barnstable all the way up to Ryder Beach in Truro."

Altogether this season, 107 turtles have been found alive and 26 found dead. Most of the survivors have been sent for treatment to a New England Aquarium rehabilitation facility in Quincy. Kemp's ridley turtles make up the vast majority of the Cape's stunned turtle population.

In 1999, 278 turtles were brought to the Audubon sanctuary, the current record.

The sanctuary is seeking donations of towels and cardboard boxes to help transport the chilled reptiles to rehab.

Experts say if you see a cold-stunned turtle, move it above the high-tide line. Cover it with eelgrass or seaweed to reduce the effect of the wind. Mark the spot with beach debris in a way that will allow it to be found again. Call the Mass Audubon's sea turtle hot line at 508-349-2615, ext. 104, and leave the exact location of the turtle. Then, let the turtle professionals do their thing.

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