Rehabilitated sea turtles returned to ocean off Cape Cod

Turtles spent months rehabilitating at New England Aquarium

BOSTON, MASS. (June 29, 2022) – Ten sea turtles rehabilitated by the New England Aquarium are now back in the ocean waters off Cape Cod.

Staff and volunteers with Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary rescued the turtles after they washed ashore cold-stunned in November and December 2021. The turtles were then taken to the Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital in Quincy, MA, where staff treated them for a variety of life-threatening medical conditions, including hypothermia, pneumonia, and bone fractures. After physical examinations earlier this month, staff veterinarians cleared the turtles—five loggerheads, two Kemp’s ridleys, and three green sea turtles—to return to the ocean off Cape Cod on Wednesday afternoon. Aquarium staff, interns, and volunteers named all of this season’s turtles using a spice theme, with “Cayenne,” “Chives,” and “Basil” part of Wednesday’s release.

“We are proud to operate one of the largest sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation programs in the world, with staff who work tirelessly to bring these animals, including the critically endangered Kemp’s ridleys, back to full health,” said Adam Kennedy, Director of Rescue and Rehabilitation at the Aquarium. “This year marks the earliest the waters of Nantucket Sound have been warm enough to release our rehabilitated turtles, a sign of climate change’s impact in our own backyard.”

As part of its work safeguarding ocean animals and habitats, the Aquarium will be tracking and studying the movement of these turtles. Prior to being released, three loggerheads and three green sea turtles were outfitted with satellite tags. Four loggerheads also received internal acoustic tags, a procedure the Aquarium has pioneered in sea turtles for long-term monitoring. The tags will provide valuable data about where the turtles swim, feed, and travel, information that Aquarium researchers can use to help protect this species.

For more than 30 years, the New England Aquarium has helped rescue, rehabilitate, release, and research endangered and threatened sea turtles. This past turtle stranding season, the Aquarium admitted more than 500 turtles for medical care, working closely with Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, National Marine Life Center, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Fisheries Service, and Turtles Fly Too to save the animals and transfer many to partner organizations to continue rehabilitation. There are 18 turtles remaining at the Quincy facility, which will be released this summer once medically cleared by Aquarium veterinarians.

The full list of turtles released on Wednesday:

  • Five loggerheads: #750 – Allspice; #805 – Chervil; #810 – Mace; #834 – Cayenne; #837 – Horseradish
  • Three greens: #245 – Chives; #388 – Thyme; #499 – Filé
  • Two Kemp’s ridleys: #221 – Basil; #627 – Nigella

 

MEDIA CONTACT:

Pam Bechtold Snyder – psnyder@neaq.org, 617-686-5068