Published on July 11, 2022

Summer Brings Reward of Healthy Turtles Returning to the Sea

06_29_22 West Dennis_Christine with crowd_reduced

It’s the flip side of the annual cold-stunned sea turtle stranding season on Cape Cod: the New England Aquarium’s summer releases of the last of their rehabilitated sea turtles.

Since last November, the aquarium has cared for more than 500 sea turtles that became trapped in Cape Cod Bay and stranded onshore. In all, Wellfleet Bay volunteers and staff rescued well over 700 turtles from bayside beaches.

A release in late June at West Dennis Beach included 10 sea turtles, including five loggerheads, three greens, and two Kemp’s ridleys. What was especially noteworthy about this group was that four of the five loggerheads had stranded in late December and early January—a time of year that’s generally too cold for turtles to survive, even larger turtles.

Seeing these turtles swim free is a tribute to our volunteers’ determination to get every cold-stunned turtle off the beach and, of course, the remarkable veterinary care these animals received at the New England Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital.

Boaters Reminded to Watch Out for Sea Turtles

Leatherback off Lobster Beach 09_21_19 Nisa Mars Counter

Sea turtles have arrived in the waters of eastern Massachusetts to feed for the summer. Given how busy the boating season is, sea turtles are very vulnerable to being struck by vessels. Boaters, including passengers, are asked to keep an eye out for sea turtles basking or feeding on or just below the water’s surface.

Wellfleet Bay also encourages anyone who sees a sea turtle to report it to seaturtlesightings.org. This website can help you identify the sea turtle you’ve seen. It also provides images of how each species may look from the perspective of a boater. Vessel operators are also asked to avoid using autopilot.