Endangered turtles, in rare event, wash up in Hull, Scituate

The turtle found at Nantasket Beach weighed 40 pounds.
The turtle found at Nantasket Beach weighed 40 pounds.
New England Aquarium

Endangered sea turtles suffering from hypothermia have been washing up on Cape Cod beaches for weeks in record numbers, but in a rare event, two of the reptiles were found this week stranded on the South Shore, the New England Aquarium announced.

Two 40-pound loggerhead sea turtles were found, one in Scituate Monday and one today in Hull. Sea turtles usually found each year inside Cape Cod Bay from Sandwich to Truro.

Sea turtles typically end up stranding on the state’s shores because of the unique shape of the bay, which is hard for the turtles to navigate out of, the aquarium said.

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Often, washed-up sea turtles appear dead because of their cold body temperature and slow heart beat, but they can still be warmed up and revived at the aquarium’s animal care center in Quincy. The turtles are warmed a few degrees every day at the center until their body temperature reaches 70 degrees, the aquarium said.

This season, 164 turtles have been rescued, 45 of them loggerheads. The aquarium usually only sees between four to six loggerheads a year.

“We’ve had a decade’s worth of loggerheads in a single season,” said aquarium spokesman Tony LaCasse.

Loggerheads range from 40 to 100 pounds, straining resources at the sea turtle hospital, which only has the capacity for 100 turtles, the aquarium said. Most of the turtles found are the endangered Kemp’s Ridleys sea turtles, which weigh up to 12 pounds.

Earlier this month, the aquarium loaded a US Coast Guard plane with 35 sea turtles, 15 of them loggerheads, so they could be flown to Florida to provide more space in the Quincy facility.

If sea turtles are found on the shore, the aquarium asks that beach walkers call the aquarium’s marine animal hotline, 617-973-5247, or contact their local animal control officer. The turtles should not be returned to the sea, because they are stranding themselves to escape the cold water.