Volunteers rescue stranded sea turtles
Photos and text by LAUREN OWENS LAMBERT/ecoRI News contributor
Winters are harsh on the shores of Cape Cod. They’re not a place where you would expect to find tropical sea turtles. But each winter, greens, loggerheads and Kemp’s ridleys wash up stunned by the cold ocean temperatures and disoriented by the unfamiliar geography.
Tony LaCasse, of the New England Aquarium, calls the hook-like shape of the geography “The Deadly Bucket.”
With help from volunteers and biologists at Mass Audubon and the New England Aquarium, the turtles are rescued, rehabilitated and flown to warmer waters to be released. Turtle strandings averaged about 90 annually until 2014, when there was a record 700.
The most commonly found stranded species is also the most endangered, the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle.
“We are not sure why we are seeing an increase in strandings while also noticing an overall decline in population of ridleys,” said Connie Merigo, director of the New England Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue Program, one of the oldest programs of its kind in the country.
Sea turtles are some of the world’s great navigators, but for this part of their journey a little help is needed.
Massachusetts resident Lauren Owens Lambert runs a photo journalist website.