The 2016 sea turtle cold-stun season is now finished, although occasional dead turtles will wash onto beaches through early spring, 2017. The total number of cold-stunned sea turtles found on Massachusetts beaches in the 2016 season was the third largest on record, with 394 critically endangered Kemp's ridleys (70% found alive), 30 greens (63% found alive), 55 loggerheads (58% found alive) and one possible hybrid (found dead). Due to the efforts of many trained volunteer beach patrollers and drivers, as well as dedicated staff, the live turtles were handled according to strict protocols and transported to the New England Aquarium's marine animal rehab facility. There they received expert veterinary care and began the rehabilitation process leading to ultimate release into warm, southern waters.
Now is the "quiet" time for southern New England waters in terms of sea turtles. Mass Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary staff are busy analyzing data, performing necropsies on cold-stunned sea turtles that washed in dead, and preparing for the live-sighting season to come. As you boaters "armchair" fish, sail or cruise, work on your boats, and think about spring launching into the waters you love, please keep sea turtles in mind. Make sure this hotline website and phone number are on your phone or tablet, and refresh your mental images of what our sea turtles look like in the water. Our earliest live sightings have been in April!