A New England Aquarium expert tended to a stranded leatherback that washed up on Nauset Beach in Orleans in 2005.
By Casey Ramsdell, Globe Correspondent
Federal officials are cautioning boaters in the waters off Massachusetts to steer clear of leatherback turtles, which have arrived in the area in record numbers.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued the warning in an attempt to protect the turtles, which can grow to be 6 1/2 feet long and weigh 2,000 pounds. The animals can be injured or killed by propellers or fishing lines.
Sara McNulty, NOAA sea turtle stranding coordinator for the Northeast region, said officials thought it was important to issue a warning as Labor Day, a popular time for boating, approaches.
An unusual number of turtles have been spotted swimming in Nantucket and Vineyard Sounds. Reports of dead, stranded, or injured turtles are also setting records.
"It is probably the second busiest year in the 20 to 30 years that I have been watching the leatherback," said Bob Prescott, director of Massachusetts Audubon's Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.
He said that people are reporting seeing 10 to 12 of the animals at one time, which is "unheard-of in Massachusetts."
Have you seen the leatherbacks this year? Let us know in our comment section.
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