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
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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 (93)
  • Eugene0808-YYCA
    12/13/2014 - 02:02 a.m.

    I think it is our job to keep the Kemp's ridley turtles to stay away from extinction. We need to protect them form extinction at all costs because they will never be seen again. The same thing goes to all the other endangered animals in the world. I think conservation is a problem here in the U.S because people are destroying wild habitats in order for them to build something. That is very wrong of us and the animals that live in these wild habitats would have very limited space to live in.
    Critical thinking challenge: Why did the New England Aquarium send the turtles to so many different places?
    Answer: The New England Aquarium sent the turtles to so many different places because the New England Aquarium doesn't have enough resources to help out all the turtles.

  • MaggieM-3
    12/13/2014 - 05:33 p.m.

    The 50 kemps ridley turtle is endanger species of sea turtle living of the coast of New England and it is recently facing the problem of New England's cold water. When a sea turtle gets hypothermia it doesn't drown but it does stop all movement and eventually drift to shore where they usually end up dying. Since November 3 more than 1,000 turtles have been beached. The New England Aquarium doesn't have the facilities to taken in all of these turtles so, they have been sending them to all different places across the country. One particular place the turtles have been going is Galveston Texas were they are being treated for hypothermia and will released off shore next spring.
    I think that it is really amazing that people care enough about animals to fly them across the country so they can be treated. I am however concerned about where they are releasing the turtles, what is the point of healing them just to send them off into the same cold waters that hurt them the first time?

  • Jacobsawc
    12/15/2014 - 08:29 a.m.

    Why did the New England Aquarium send the turtles to so many different places? i agree with the person who said it why are they??? why are they :(

  • Paige.
    12/15/2014 - 08:30 a.m.

    Biologist have found a dozen Turtles that are planning to head south. They will be heading south for some warmer weather. Ever since November 3rd more than 1000 Turtles have headed south. A little more than half of them were rescued.

  • Jadenj
    12/15/2014 - 08:33 a.m.

    I think it is amazing that they have saved so many. But it is also sad that they are endangered. Wonder if the sea turtles will make a comeback. And the fact that there was a oil spill is sad but it is amazing that the center helps them.

  • Ally.
    12/15/2014 - 08:36 a.m.

    Q.Why did the New England Aquarium send the turtles to so many different places?

    A. I think they sent them to all these different places because maybe they needed to get to know all these places. What I mean is maybe these are the best places that turtles can hibernate. So when they up they know where to go! So their not going to very cold places to go.

  • 21zfmcro
    12/15/2014 - 12:09 p.m.

    I like turtle so i like these people because turtles are awesome. they probably sent them to Texas because its really hot in Texas.

  • 21ajmich
    12/15/2014 - 12:11 p.m.

    I love turtles myself. That is so amazing that they actually survived the cold shock. I hope that the turtles get healthy again and that a lot of them do no die. When they get released I hope that they make their journey. :~)

  • 21lktemb
    12/15/2014 - 12:11 p.m.

    It's a good thing that the sea turtles were rescued. I didn't know that sea turtles don't drown. I hope there will be more ridley sea turtles in the future so they won't be an endangered species anymore. I also hope that none of the turtles have hypothermia, or frostbite, or anything else like that. It is good that they were rescued so they wouldn't die of having a disease.

  • 21amskin
    12/15/2014 - 12:11 p.m.

    This is so sad. One of my dogs got hypothermia from jumping into the water and died. I cried my eyes out when this happened. I'm so sorry for these turtles. I'm just happy they are still alive. Many animals don't live after getting hypothermia without treatment. I'm happy these wonderful turtles got treatment. I'm happy to see that some people actually care. I just want to say that many animals in the world wouldst still be here if these people that care weren't here. I just want to say thank you to all the people that care. These people deserve a reword. Thank you people that care thank you. To make getting hypothermia even worse these turtles were already endangered so if these people didn't care these turtles could have become extinct.

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