Field School: Sea Turtle and Marine Animal Strandings

Sponsored by Wellfleet Bay


2 classes (show schedule)
Fri, Dec 10, 2021
9:30 am - 8:00 pm
Sat, Dec 11, 2021
8:00 am - 4:00 pm


Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, South Wellfleet MA


Carol "Krill" Carson - New England Coastal Wildlife Alliance; Barbara Brennessel - Biologist and Writer; Bob Prescott - Sanctuary Director Emeritus, Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary






Nonmembers can join today during checkout and take immediate advantage of member prices.

Late fall is a wonderful time to be on Cape Cod, and this workshop offers a unique way to explore the region and the natural world.

Every year in the month of November sea turtles that have lingered in Cape Cod Bay succumb to dropping water temperatures, become cold-stunned, and wash ashore on bayside beaches. For over 25 years, the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary has been involved with the rescue of these endangered turtles and with the help of a cadre of local volunteers our response and success rates of saving these rare marine turtles have soared.

This is also the time of year when other marine animals can be found stranded on local beaches. Torpedo rays, ocean sunfish, and coastal and pelagic birds are among the wildlife we may encounter. Please note that it is most likely that these species will not be alive if found. However, we can gain a lot of insight into their natural history and biology by collecting baseline data on these individuals, and possibly performing necropsies (animal autopsies) on them.

While we can never predict in advance when or if sea turtles and other marine animals will strand, our weekend together is scheduled during peak time according to past records and tidal cycle. Ultimately wind and weather conditions will determine whether the animals are washed ashore, but this weekend is designed for participants to get a "hands-on" perspective of rescue and rehibilitation efforts.

Activities include patrolling the beaches in search of stranded turtles, collecting baseline data on stranded animals, and performing necropsies on deceased individuals. Through this field experience and schduled indoor lectures, participants will walk away with an in-depth introduction to the natural history of sea turtles and other local marine animals.

*Please note: the hours listed on the schedule may vary from the sample schedule in the field school brochure and are subject to change based on tides, staff, optimal wildlife sightings, and other variables. A detailed schedule will be prepared and sent to registrants at approximately 3-4 weeks in advance.

Due to COVID protocols, participants will need to provide their own transportation to field trip locations around the Cape.

This course is one of several Cape Cod Field Schools offered. Visit to learn more.

Team up with staff to patrol beaches in search of cold-stunned sea turtles and aid in their rescue, assist with data collection, and prepare live turtles for transport to the New England Aquarium. Often other stranded marine wildlife are encountered, including ocean sunfish, which provides unique insight into the natural history and biology of our coastal region. While strandings can't be predicted or guaranteed, this program offers a unique experience and perspective. Field trips are timed with the tides and may require early morning and/or late night adventures.

Instructions and Directions:

Advance registration is required and is accepted on-line, over the phone, or through the mail. Payment in full is due upon registration. Upon registration you will receive a confirmation letter, then 2-3 weeks in advance of your course you will receive an email with detailed information related to the class.
Due to COVID protocols, participants will need to provide their own transportation to field trip locations around the Cape.

Cancellations must be received in writing (via email or regular mail) 30 days before starting date to receive a full refund (less a $50 nonrefundable administration fee per registrant).

Cancellation received less than 30 days before starting date may result in forfeit of entire course fee. If we can fill your spot with another registration then your balance is returned, less the $50 nonrefundable administration fee. The sanctuary reserves the right to cancel any course with a full refund to registrants.

For a complete listing of Field School courses visit

Registration is required.
For your own security, DO NOT send credit card information via email.

For more information, contact:

P.O. Box 236, State Highway Rte. 6
South Wellfleet, MA 02663
For your own security, DO NOT send credit card information via email.