Chilled sea turtles head south for a warm up A sea turtle looks over its enclosure at the NOAA Fisheries Service Sea Turtle Facility in Galveston, Texas. At left, NOAA research fishery biologist Lyndsey Howell places a rescued sea turtle in an enclosure (AP photos)
Chilled sea turtles head south for a warm up
Lexile

Marine biologists have flown dozens of endangered sea turtles from Cape Cod, Mass., to Galveston, Texas. The turtles are being treated for hypothermia.

The 50 Kemp's ridley sea turtles are a critically endangered species. They were shocked by cold temperatures in the waters off New England. The turtles were rescued from the beaches of Cape Cod.

The group arrived at the Galveston Sea Turtle Facility. It's operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. There, the turtles will be slowly warmed to a safe temperature. They will be treated for infections, frostbite and other health problems, program manager Ben Higgins said.

"They're not in great shape," he said.

Cold-stunned turtles don't drown. They do stop moving and eating. Eventually, they're washed ashore where they often die. The beaching is an annual event. But more turtles have washed ashore this year than in previous years, Higgins said.

Since Nov. 3, more than 1,000 turtles have been beached in Massachusetts, and more than half of them were rescued. The number of turtles has overwhelmed the resources of the New England Aquarium in Boston. It usually treats the beached turtles.

Besides Galveston, the aquarium has sent turtles to more than a dozen other U.S. rehabilitation centers.

"We're always here and available and always have space to deal with large sea turtle events," Higgins said.

This is not the first time the NOAA sea turtle center in Galveston has rendered aid to hypothermic turtles. It has also treated turtles brought in from Louisiana. That was after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Once the turtles recover at the Galveston center, they will be released offshore next spring, Higgins said.

Previous efforts to protect the Kemp's ridley sea turtle had boosted their population by 12 percent to 17 percent a year. But in 2010, the year of the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the turtle's numbers began to fall rapidly.

Scientists recently reported the number of nests made by the endangered sea turtle in Mexico. They have fallen by 40 percent to 50 percent. A similar dropoff was found in Texas.

Critical thinking challenge: Why did the New England Aquarium send the turtles to so many different places?

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COMMENTS (89)
  • angiehorse12
    12/12/2014 - 12:39 p.m.

    I think that bringing the turtles to Galveston, Texas where the biologists are is a great idea so they don't die out in the cold. I wonder how many turtles are there in Texas?

  • Logan.Tomasulo57
    12/12/2014 - 12:43 p.m.

    I think it's cool that the people are saving turtles in Cape Cod. It is sad that turtles die because they get hypothermia and float to shore.

  • TE2001lego
    12/12/2014 - 01:01 p.m.

    That's sound an great idea heading towards the south for warmth I think it's because the south is close to the equator the warmest place on earth.

  • AC2001curly
    12/12/2014 - 01:03 p.m.

    I didn't know turtles can have hypothermia. Sea turtles are really cool animals actually. Are they able to be on land for a long time?

  • GD2000marine
    12/12/2014 - 01:09 p.m.

    How come the turtles don't stop moving when they're frozen with hypothermia, it will just be easier for it to die with out any suffering.

  • wpapril30
    12/12/2014 - 01:10 p.m.

    I think helping an endangered sea turtle will make a big different in life in the animal. I think if the sea turtle is going endangered we should conation the animal for safely.

  • VinnyG_TheYankeeBoy19
    12/12/2014 - 02:07 p.m.

    This article is about the Kemp's ridley sea turtle becoming endangered and what people are doing to stop it. The reason they sent the turtles to so many different places was so that the turtle population could spread all over and have a smaller chance of going extinct. They could mate and have more turtles so that they wouldn't die out. Then they would roam off to places near that and just keep spreading until we don't have to worry about their extinction anymore. That is why they sent the turtle to so many different places.

  • elijah2021
    12/12/2014 - 02:17 p.m.

    This article is about how sea turtle are washing on ashore died or injured and people are helping them. The story talks about a marine biologist and my sister is going to college for marine biologie and she is going to help all sorts of sea animals. Also why are the turtles going ashore. Adding to that why is it so mush more than last year. Lastly what is the sickness hypothermia.

  • CitlalyA-Wal
    12/12/2014 - 02:54 p.m.

    You look so cute. I use to have a turtle . Its name was summer because we found her in the summer.Oh and she was a girl too. She was cute as you little turtle . One question what do turtles eat?

  • NatalieV-5
    12/12/2014 - 04:12 p.m.

    Ever since November 3, a bunch of turtles have been getting hypothermia and going to shore the later dying. A sea turtle facility has rescued more than 10,000 turtles. They have taken them from Cape Cod to Texas and put them in the warmer water so they won't die. The turtles are supposed to be sent back into the ocean next spring. This sea facility has saved many other turtles before. I think this is a very cool thing that these people are doing. Also I think these kind of facilities are a really neat thing saving animals.

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