Chilled sea turtles head south for a warm up
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Dozens of sick sea turtles have been flown to Galveston, Texas. The turtles are being treated for hypothermia.
The 50 Kemp's ridley sea turtles are an endangered species. They were shocked by cold temperatures in the waters off New England. The turtles were rescued from the beaches of Cape Cod, Mass.
The group arrived at the Galveston Sea Turtle Facility. The turtles will be slowly warmed to a safe temperature. They will be treated for infections, frostbite and other health problems.
"They're not in great shape," program manager Ben Higgins said.
Cold-stunned turtles don't drown. They do stop moving and eating. Eventually, they wash 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. 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 sea turtle center in Galveston has rendered aid to turtles. Once was in 2010, after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Once the turtles recover at the Galveston center, they will be released offshore. That's expected to happen next spring.