Sea turtle rescued on Martha’s Vineyard after weekend snowstorm

Humans weren’t the only ones with travel plans affected by last weekend’s snowstorm.

The New England Aquarium rescued the first hypothermic sea turtle of the winter after it was found, stunned by the cold, near a tidal pond on Martha’s Vineyard on its way south for the winter.

The 5-pound Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle — the most endangered sea turtle in the world — was found in Edgartown by a beach walker on Oct. 30, aquarium spokesman Tony LaCasse said in a statement.

Its internal body temperature was 52.5 degrees. Staff are “guarded but optimistic’’ that the animal will recover, LaCasse said.


The turtle was brought to the Massachusetts Audubon Sanctuary at Wellfleet Bay and then transferred to the New England Aquarium’s Marine Animal Care Center in Quincy. Last year, the center took in more than 120 endangered and threatened sea turtles, LaCasse said.

The turtle should have migrated beginning in September, the Aquarium said, but an underlying medical problem may have kept it from doing so until now (the Vineyard is on the turtle’s migratory route). The animal was thin and lame on its right front flipper from an old injury.

To rehabilitate the turtle, aquarium workers will rewarm the animal a few degrees each day, until its body temperature is in the low 70s. They may also treat the animal for dehydration, malnutrition and metabolic problems — present in nearly all sea turtles with hypothermia — as well as pneumonia, orthopedic problems and infections — all of which are also common with these sea turtles.

The rehabilitation could take up to 10 months, LaCasse said. Once turtles are healthy, they are transported to the nearest warm water — Florida or Georgia in the winter, but just south of Massachusetts in late summer.

If the turtle survives, it will be given a name. Each year, the names given to the rescued sea turtles have a theme. This year, it’s superheroes and villains.

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