Sea Turtles on the Cape

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Selchie in LB

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Mass Audubon, Wellfleet Bay massaudubon.org Actually saw this link on Facebook.

The mere mention of sea turtles usually conjures up images of warm tropical isles and sunny beaches, and, to a certain extent, this image is correct. Adult sea turtles, with the exception of the leatherback, are truly tropical or, at least, sub-tropical creatures. It has become evident, however, that certain species of juvenile sea turtles are coming north to feed along the east coast and returning south before the onset of winter.

Even people who spend a great deal of time on the water are surprised to learn that sea turtles are present in our waters. Though Cape Cod Bay and Nantucket sound are extensively used by both commercial and pleasure craft, few sight records of sea turtles exist.

While highly unlikely, it is possible, with luck, to find five species of sea turtles in Cape Cod waters.

The hawksbill is a truly tropical turtle and rarely visits our waters. There are only two records for Massachusetts, the most recent being l989.
The green turtle probably frequents our waters with some degree of regularity but would not be considered common since, on average, only one strands per year.
Loggerheads are very regular visitors to our northern waters. In fact, they have been recovered in Canada and Europe as well.
The Atlantic ridley is shrouded in the deepest mystery. Not only is it the smallest and hardest to find, it is the most endangered of the sea turtles, and the species that strands in the greatest numbers on Cape Cod Bay beaches.
Leatherbacks are tropical nesters, and as juveniles they remain in warmer waters to our south, but as sub-adults and adults they begin the longest migration in the reptile world. From the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, the leatherbacks head north to feeding grounds near the Arctic Sea where they feed extensively on jellyfish. On their way south in August and September, they often stop in Cape Cod Bay where they occasionally get entangled in lobster pot line.
Stranded Sea Turtles
Each fall beginning in November, when the water temperature of the Bay nears 50° sea turtles, reptiles whose body temperature is determined by the environment around them, become cold-stunned. Their blood circulation and other body processes slow down, they are unable to swim and are at the mercy of the wind and currents. When the wind blows from the north or northwest you can usually count on finding one or more turtles washed ashore along Cape Cod Bay. In 2001, 95 sea turtles were recovered from the beaches of Cape Cod during the cold stunned stranding season (87 ridleys, 6 loggerheads, and 2 green turtles).

It is very important to recover these stranded turtles, dead or alive. The accumulation of years of data can help solve some of the mysteries surrounding sea turtles and increase our success at rehabilitating these stranded turtles for release back into the wild. While a stranded sea turtle may look dead, chances are it is still alive and with proper treatment will survive to be released back into the wild.

All sea turtles are protected by the Endangered Species Act. It is illegal to molest, harass, catch or kill them, or to possess any part of a sea turtle. Scientists are still trying to put together the remaining pieces of the sea turtle puzzle, so if you see or find a sea turtle, report it. Every piece of information fills in one more empty space in the total picture.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU FIND A SEA TURTLE
Do not put it back in the water.
Do not remove it from the beach.
Move it above the high tide line.
Cover it with seaweed and mark its location with a stick, buoy or other beach debris.
Call us at 508-349-2615 and leave a message as to its location. Please be as specific as possible in giving directions from the nearest beach access so we can recover the turtle quickly.

under water some where
 

AfterDark

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Thanks for posting this. IMO the board should make the what to do if found part a sticky and post it in the NE forum that is a MA phone number after all.
 

Selchie in LB

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This resource is on the Cape. I was trying to figure the best place to post it.

Silly me would just toss them back in the water! So not the right thing to do. Some should make a Finding Nemo film about NE ocean fauna.

under water some where
 
https://www.shearwater.com/products/perdix-ai/

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