Published on December 1, 2017

Sea Turtle Stranding Season: Volunteers Ready to Roll

Early season loggerhead rescued on the Vineyard
Loggerhead rescued on the Vineyard

November is typically the start of cold-stun sea turtle season, but 2017 was slow to provide the classic "stranding" weather—cold fronts that fuel several days of consistent winds.

But those conditions finally arrived and our volunteers, champing at the bit to walk beaches, started finding turtles. To date, more than 350 turtles have been rescued. We also had a very early loggerhead rescued on Martha's Vineyard. 

The loggerhead was met at the ferry by surprised volunteers Tim O'Brien and Kim Novino, who'd expected to be picking up a little Kemp's ridley. Because of their larger size, loggerheads tend to strand in December and January.

Sea turtle ICU sign

Stress Reduction for Turtles

This fall, Wellfleet Bay adopted new procedures aimed at reducing stress in cold-stunned sea turtles.

The new protocols, which include limiting noise and other disturbances, are the result of recent research by aquarium scientists and others. The aquarium has found that turtles fresh off the beach show extremely high levels of the stress hormone corticosterone, a condition that can make them more prone to infections.

As a result, turtles at the sanctuary are being kept in a cool and quiet room, with a very limited number of people at any one time.

Volunteer Heather Pilchard rescues a Kemp’s ridley on Great Island
Volunteer Heather Pilchard rescuing a Kemp’s ridley on Great Island

Great Turtles Draw Great People

No doubt, sea turtles are rock stars in the world of charismatic megafauna. But the people who are drawn to helping them are also pretty stellar!

Learn more about them >