Cape sea turtle heads for release
His name is Herb, he's 75 pounds with a chestnut brown shell, and when the sea turtle was discovered on a Cape Cod beach earlier in the month, he was very, very cold.
Luckily, volunteers from the Massachusetts Audubon Sanctuary at Wellfleet Bay who found Herb alerted officials at the New England Aquarium in Boston who came to the rescue. Veterinarians and rescue biologists slowly warmed Herb about 5 degrees each day. When he was found on the Truro beach on Dec. 3, his body temperature was in the 40s. It's now a stable temperature in the low 70s.
That means Herb is ready to make another voyage - to the Riverhead Foundation in Long Island, a nonprofit dedicated to rehabilitation and release of seals, whales, dolphins, and sea turtles. They will help treat Herb and release him when he's healthy enough. Most hypothermic sea turtles found on Cape Cod that survive are discovered before Thanksgiving.
Herb is one of six loggerhead turtles that washed up late this season. They averaged about 50 pounds, and all have survived. Herb is still a relatively young turtle, probably between 4 and 7 years old. As an adult, he will weigh 200 to 250 pounds.
"This particularly guy, Herb, is the biggest of the season," said Tony LaCasse, spokesman for New England Aquarium. LaCasse said Herb's plight isn't unusual. Each year endangered sea turtles begin washing up on the shores of the outer beaches of Cape Cod. Biologists think that as the water temperatures begin to cool in the autumn the turtles, which have come north to feed, instinctively turn around and head south for warmer waters.
Those caught on the north side of Cape Cod don't know enough to swim out and around and end up being trapped as the waters continue to dip.