New England Aquarium releases sea turtles back into the ocean after 8 months of rehab

Environment

The Kemp’s ridley turtles were rescued in December 2022 after becoming cold-stunned in Cape Cod Bay.

The New England Aquarium released two sea turtles it rescued in December 2022 on Thursday. New England Aquarium

The New England Aquarium released two sea turtles back into the ocean Thursday after eight months of rehabilitation.

Rotelle and Sorpresine were the aquarium’s last two releases from the 2022 cold-stunning season, the aquarium said in a Facebook post Friday. They needed long-term rehabilitation, and were among 518 sea turtles the aquarium rescued last year.

The New England Aquarium released two sea turtles it rescued in December 2022 on Thursday. – New England Aquarium

Aquarium staff found Rotelle stranded on Dec. 19, 2022, the aquarium said. The turtle was one of the most critical cases the staff dealt with last season.

“Following the treatment of its injuries by Aquarium staff, Rotelle was swimming through its enclosure using all four flippers in no time!” the aquarium wrote.

Aquarium staff found a severely-emaciated Sorpresine the day after they found Rotelle, the aquarium said. The turtle was suffering an acute case of pneumonia and needed antibiotics and antifungal medication.

After being treated at the aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital at their Quincy Animal Care Center, Sorpresine gained three pounds, the aquarium said.

“These two sea turtles clearly demonstrate how, despite their severe life-threatening illnesses and the many associated challenges, they can fully recover when given a chance,” the aquarium wrote.

The New England Aquarium released two sea turtles it rescued in December 2022 on Thursday. – New England Aquarium

Both Rotelle and Sorpresine were Kemp’s ridley turtles, the aquarium said. At two feet long, they are the smallest species of sea turtle in the world, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA).

Kemp’s ridleys are endangered due to fishing gear entanglements, overfishing, and habitat degradation, among other causes, according to NOAA. This means they are at very high risk of extinction in the wild.

Why sea turtles need rescuing

According to the aquarium, sea turtles are cold-blooded, meaning they depend on their surroundings to keep their body temperature up. So when the weather turns cold, they can easily suffer hypothermia and become “cold-stunned.”

Each fall, a number of turtles become cold-stunned in Cape Cod Bay, the aquarium said. They wash up on beaches, and aquarium staff come to rescue those which can be rehabilitated.

Treating the turtles can take anywhere from a few months to two years before they are healthy enough to return to the wild, according to the aquarium. After 25 years of doing such work, up to 85% of the turtles it rescues are returned to the ocean.

Last year, 442 of the 518 turtles the aquarium rescued were Kemp’s ridleys, the aquarium said. The others were green sea turtles, like the aquarium’s famous Myrtle, or loggerhead turtles, which are also endangered.

Unfortunately, the aquarium said Friday, statistical modeling indicates that by 2031, thousands of cold-stunned sea turtles may be washing up on the Cape’s shores.

“This is why support for sea turtle rescue and rehab is so important when it comes to preserving the life of these amazing animals!” it wrote.


Posted

in

by