The New England Aquarium responds to calls about distressed sea turtles.
Our response area ranges from Boston north to the New Hampshire-Maine border. If you encounter a sea turtle in distress on the beach within this territory, please call our Sea Turtle Rescue Hotline at 617-973-5247.
Our rescuers rehabilitate endangered sea turtles. In the past decade alone, our rescuers have treated and released hundreds of Kemp’s ridley sea turtles as well as many green and loggerhead sea turtles. These numbers are especially significant considering the Kemp’s ridley is the most endangered sea turtle in the world.
Each fall, staff and volunteer walkers from the Massachusetts Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary comb dozens of miles of beach trying to find stranded sea turtles. The turtles are transported to the rescuers and veterinarians at the New England Aquarium with extreme hypothermia, severe dehydration, pneumonia, and often shell or bone fractures. While 2014 was a record-smashing year when 733 turtles were treated at the Animal Care Center in Quincy, on average we treat about 300 turtles each year. Their treatment can last between two and eight months, sometimes longer. Most of the sea turtles that arrive alive at the Aquarium recover and are released back into the ocean.
Sea turtles in our region do not typically come ashore unless they are seriously debilitated. For sea turtles found on beaches from Boston north through New Hampshire, call the New England Aquarium’s 24-hour Sea Turtle Rescue Hotline at 617-973-5247. Please try to remain calm and leave your name and a phone number where you can be reached. For sea turtles found along the South Shore, Cape Cod, and the Islands, please call the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary at 508-349-2615 x6104.
How to Help Other Stranded Animals
The New England Aquarium only responds to distressed sea turtles. Please see below for information and numbers to call if you find a distressed mammal on the beach.
Whales, Dolphins, or Porpoises
A beached whale, dolphin, or porpoise should be reported immediately (see below) and left alone pending further instruction.
Most seals that are found on beaches are quite healthy. Please do not disturb them. Unlike whales or dolphins, seals are semi-aquatic and are comfortable out of the water. Most seals come onto beaches to sleep, nurse, or soak up some sun. In fact, most seals on the beach are perfectly healthy, but sometimes they do need human assistance. Does the seal have any obvious injuries, gunky eyes, or look skinny or underweight? If so, please take notes on its location, size, coloring, and behavior and call the appropriate marine animal rescue team.
Who to Call for Seals, Dolphins, or Whale Species
Below are the New England area marine animal stranding response agencies and the geographic areas they cover:
- Rockport to Plymouth: NOAA, 866-755-6622
- Salisbury to Essex: Seacoast Science Center, 603-997-9448
- Cape Cod and Southeastern MA: IFAW, 508-743-9548
- Martha’s Vineyard: NOAA, 866-755-6622
- Nantucket: Marine Mammal Alliance Nantucket, 833-667-6626
- New Hampshire coast: Seacoast Science Center, 603-997-9448
- North of Rockport, Maine: College of the Atlantic, 800-532-9551
- South of Rockport: Marine Mammals of Maine, 800-532-9551
Rhode Island & Connecticut
- Mystic Aquarium, 860-572-5944, Ext. 107