Published on October 28, 2020

Sea Turtle Rescue Season on Cape Cod

Wellfleet Bay has been rescuing cold-stunned sea turtles from the Cape’s bayside beaches for more than 30 years. 

Jacey picks up LK at Campground Beach_Eastham

Each fall, hundreds—sometimes many hundreds—of sea turtles can wash up on the beach. Most of these turtles are critically endangered juvenile Kemp’s ridleys, the smallest sea turtle species. Later in the fall, larger loggerheads can strand. Even though they may appear dead, many of these turtles are in fact alive.

Wellfleet Bay's trained rescuers patrol beaches after each high tide. But sometimes, cold-stunned sea turtles are found by casual beach walkers. 

If you happen to find a stranded sea turtle on the beach this fall, it’s important to do the following

  • Carefully move the turtle, if you can, above the highest tide line so that it doesn’t wash back into the water. Never put the turtle back into the water. 
  • Cover the turtle completely, including the head, with dry seaweed to protect it from the cold, wind and predators. Never cover any part of the turtle with sand. Mark the spot either with beach debris or by drawing a large arrow in the sand. 
  • Call the Wellfleet Bay turtle hotline at 508-349-2615, extension 6104. Leave your name, phone number, and the name of the beach or closest landing where you found the turtle. The hotline is monitored 24/7 and someone will return your call.

Learn more about why sea turtles experience cold-stunning on the Cape and the different species of sea turtles that can be found in our local waters. And thanks for helping to protect these vulnerable species!

Please note: Because of COVID-19 guidelines, Wellfleet Bay is unable to accept new sea turtle volunteers this season.