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New England seeing a huge spike in beached sea turtles

March 28, 2019

QUINCY, Mass. (AP) — The numbers of sea turtles washing up on New England beaches has spiked significantly, many stunned and unable to escape the region’s cooling winter waters.

The Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary said the number of beached Kemp’s ridley, loggerhead and green sea turtles on Cape Cod have nearly doubled since 2016 to 818 and are 10 times higher than a decade ago.

Unlike other parts of Texas and Florida where a cold snap is to blame, the turtles in Cape Cod are attracted to the warming waters and get trapped because they are unable to move south when the waters cool in the fall.

Many rescued turtles suffer from compromised immune systems and pneumonia due to “cold stunning,” a hypothermic reaction that occurs when turtles are exposed to cold water for prolonged periods.