When 1,200 turtles washed ashore in Cape Cod over the last two months, people took notice. Although turtles washing ashore in Cape Cod isn’t unusual in itself, it’s the sheer quantity of these creatures that is drawing attention. According to Yahoo! News, the animals have been coming in on the tide since mid-November.
Now a record number of turtles are arriving daily, with the largest number coming ashore in a single day reaching 198. In prior years, numbers typically reached no higher than 200 annually. Wildlife experts can’t explain the increase in numbers, although some point to an increase in the turtle population in general as a possible cause.
“I am hearing a lot of theories, but the reality of the situation is we really don’t know — nobody knows,” stranding program manager at the New England Aquarium Connie Merigo said of the increase in cold-stunned turtles washing ashore in Cape Cod.
It isn’t every day that 1,200 turtles wash ashore in Cape Cod, or elsewhere. That’s why concerned staff members and more than 150 volunteers from the Massachusetts Audubon Society’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary in South Wellfleet are taking action. These dedicated individuals have taken to patrolling the shorelines around the clock, searching for stranded turtles in distress.
Many of the sea turtles are malnourished and susceptible to pneumonia by the time they come ashore, and their survival rate is only around 50 percent. New England Aquarium’s animal care center in Quincy has received around 700 of these distressed creatures, providing necessary treatment and nursing them back to stable condition before distributing them to other animal care facilities for further rehabilitation.
Of the 1,200 turtles washed ashore and stranded in Cape Cod, the majority are the endangered species Kemp’s ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys kempii), which can reach 24 to 28 inches in length and weigh up to 100 pounds as adults, according to NOAA. Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are the smallest marine turtles in the world.
Speaking of turtles, as previously reported by the Inquisitr, an animal lover got the surprise of a lifetime when she discovered a two-headed snapping turtle crossing the road. Kathleen Talbot of Maine watched over a bale of turtle hatchlings to ensure their safety as they crossed the road, and she noticed that one of the little creatures was falling behind. When she brought the baby snapping turtle home and rinsed off its coating of dirt, she discovered that it had two heads protruding from a single tiny shell. She named the unusual creature Frank and Stein.
[Image by New England Aquarium via Yahoo!]
Comments are welcome. What do you think caused 1,200 turtles to wash ashore in Cape Cod?