Aquarium warms up stranded sea turtles; more expected after nor’easter

It’s not just humans who have to brave the cold weather as temperatures drop, but each year beach walkers from the Massachusetts Audubon Sanctuary on Cape Cod are on the lookout to rescue stranded sea turtles that are suffering from hypothermia.

Two sea turtles, weighing 3 and 5 pounds, are being re-warmed at the New England Aquarium’s Animal Care Center in Quincy after they were found in Dennis and Brewster on Tuesday with body temperatures of less than 58 degrees.

Although sea turtles — being cold-blooded — can survive with low body temperatures, they are susceptible to infections at that state, so the aquarium is warming the turtles by 5 degrees a day for four days until their body temperature reaches slightly more than 70 degrees, the aquarium said. In comparison, humans can begin to experience mild hypothermia when body temperatures reach 95 degrees, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

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These particular turtles are Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles, which are the most endangered sea turtle in the world, the aquarium said. Each summer they migrate to Cape Cod to feed on crabs, but every autumn 25 to 200 sea turtles face difficulty migrating out of the Cape and cannot migrate back south. Eventually, and after some therapy, the rescued turtles will be released in warmer waters down south, the aquarium said.

Audubon volunteers are searching for more turtles this morning that are expected to appear after Wednesday’s nor’easter, the aquarium said.

Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles are considered to be the smallest marine turtle in the world, but adults can weigh up to 100 pounds and grow up to 28 inches in length, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration.