November 27 - 2001: Annual search for Kemp's ridley turtles

They're the world's rarest and most endangered sea turtles.
A sea turtle about to be released by MA WBWS in 2009. Photo courtesy of WBWS.

2001: Annual search for Kemp's ridley turtles

On this day in 2001, the New York Times featured a story about some rather unfortunate visitors here on Cape Cod - stranded sea turtles. Each season, naturalist from the local sanctuaries and volunteers patrol the Cape's bay beaches looking for sea turtles who have remained in our area longer than they should have. The story begins:

The turtles, called Kemp's ridleys, are the world's rarest and most endangered sea turtles. Weighing 5 to 10 pounds, usually 2 to 3 years old and about the size of a big green dinner plate, they spend summers feeding on blue mussels and crabs in the warm bay. But in fall, when they should be swimming south, many fail to get out of the bay.

Robert Prescott, director of the Massachusetts Audubon Society's Wellfleet Wildlife Sanctuary, explained: ''When the fall weather turns cold and the water temperature dips below 50 degrees for a sustained period of time, they become so sluggish they can't leave the bay for warmer water. A strong northerly wind pushes them ashore.''...

Because sea turtles can die from the cold, naturalists say, the sooner they find the turtles, the better the chance of their survival. Once recovered, they ride -- often in the passenger seat of a naturalist's pickup truck -- to the sanctuary in Wellfleet. A saline solution is applied to their eyes; protective jelly is rubbed on the carapace to retain body heat; some are given fluid intravenously.

Read the full story here.

The slideshow below is from a Massachusetts Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary 2009 release of sea turtles that had been rescued in the winter and nursed back to health.


CapeCodToday.com welcomes thoughtful comments and the varied opinions of our readers. We are in no way obligated to post or allow comments that our moderators deem inappropriate. We reserve the right to delete comments we perceive as profane, vulgar, threatening, offensive, racially-biased, homophobic, slanderous, hateful or just plain rude. Commenters may not attack or insult other commenters, readers or writers. Commenters who persist in posting inappropriate comments will be banned from commenting on CapeCodToday.com.