20 frost-stunned sea turtles rescued by Westhampton Beach group

WESTHAMPTON BEACH, NY – Once again, the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society has come to the rescue of the cold-stunned Ridley Sea Turtles.

According to AMSEAS, on Friday 20 of the cold-stunned turtles were admitted to triage at the organization’s facilities in Westhampton Beach.

The sea turtles arrived from the New England Aquarium Friday morning on a flight coordinated by Turtles Fly Too, landing at Gabreski Airport, AMSEAS said.

AMSEAS efforts are part of the specially trained animal response team to provide support to other organizations in the network; the mission was hosted by Kate Sampson, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Stranding and Detangling Coordinator.

As in 2020, AMSEAS has been called upon again this year to assist during the 2021 cold stunning season to provide acute care to turtles at their intensive care triage center.

“Today’s effort to give them a second chance consisted of two planes, one that flew the turtles to AMSEAS, then continued on to New Jersey to our network partners at Sea Turtle Recovery.” , said AMSEAS. “The other turtles transported to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, and the Turtle Hospital.”

AMSEAS biologists and volunteers formed several internal teams – including transport, sorting and rearing – to assess each sea turtle and create a care plan, AMSEAS said.

Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are the smallest and most endangered species of sea turtle in the world, AMSEAS explained.

“When we founded the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society in 2016, it was always with the idea that we would help other members of the stranding network and other conservation organizations,” said the chief scientist of AMSEAS, Rob DiGiovanni. “Nothing we do is about us. It really takes a village to make a difference and we are proud to be able to help with stranding events like these. Promoting marine conservation through action is absolutely a group effort. ”

According to AMSEAS, the cold dizziness season occurs in the northeast when water temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit in the fall; some sea turtles are then unable to move south into warmer waters. The turtles become hypothermic or “stunned by the cold,” AMSEAS said.

Early symptoms include a decreased heart rate, decreased breathing and lethargy, followed by shock, pneumonia and possibly death, AMSEAS said. Between 400 and 900 sea turtles stunned by the cold wash up each year, alive or dead, in the northeast; in 2021 so far there have been more than 500 strandings, AMSEAS said.

NOAA Fisheries is working with partner organizations for a coordinated rescue effort, AMSEAS explained: Volunteers from Massachusetts Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary walk on Cape Cod beaches to collect frozen-stunned turtles. Next, volunteers return the turtles to Mass Audubon, where staff check for signs of life and assess the turtles, which then go to New England Aquarium’s Animal Care Center or the National Marine Life Center, both members of the Stranding Network. marine turtles from NOAA Fisheries, for initial assessment and treatment, AMSEAS said.

Sea turtles are commonly found in the waters off the mid Atlantic and northeastern United States during summer and early fall. Turtles enter northeastern bays and coastal waters in summer. Some seem to stay too long in the fall, and those in Cape Cod Bay are blocked from the warmer waters offshore and south by the Cape Arm, AMSEAS said.

Following last year’s rescue efforts, these sea turtles were released at Hampton Bays to cheers from the crowds.


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