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350-pound adult male loggerhead sea turtle rescued off beach in Truro

The 350-pound loggerhead sea turtle with Truro DPW workers, from left to right: Mike Locke, Peter Morris, and Jeff Holway.
The 350-pound loggerhead sea turtle with Truro DPW workers, from left to right: Mike Locke, Peter Morris, and Jeff Holway.Mass Audubon

A 350-pound adult male loggerhead sea turtle was rescued off a beach in Truro Friday, a rare sighting for the area.

The “giant” adult male turtle was found upside down mid-morning Friday by Mass Audubon volunteers on Great Hollow Beach in Truro. Its condition has since improved “little-by-little” since then, said Connie Merigo, Marine Animal Rescue Department manager for the New England Aquarium, which is treating the turtle.

“This is a unique situation for Cape Cod Bay,” said Bob Prescott, who oversees the Sea Turtle Stranding Program at Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.

Volunteers walk along beaches during the cold-stunned season, an instance which happens every year where turtles get stuck in the Cape’s hook shape and become unable to escape the cooling waters to go south. This year’s cold-stunned season began Nov. 3, and usually juvenile turtles are stranded, the Globe reported.

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Over 60 turtles have been rescued and treated during this year’s rescue season, including loggerheads, Kemp’s ridleys, and leatherbacks, the Globe reported.

Winds were strong on Friday, so volunteers were out on the beaches in Truro and Wellfleet where the surf was 2 to 4 feet, Prescott said. That was how a volunteer was able to spot the upside down loggerhead, which is at least 30 years old.

The turtle is the only adult male loggerhead Massachusetts has seen so far, Prescott said, who has been tracking this since 1974. It’s also the largest — the last largest loggerhead was an adult female found a couple of years ago, a “runt” weighing in at 250 pounds.

With the help of the Truro Department of Public Works, the team was able to get the turtle righted-up and onto a truck, Prescott said. The turtle was then taken to the aquarium’s Animal Care Center in Quincy.

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In a video posted to the sanctuary’s Facebook, rescuers could be spotted helping the turtle, with one commenting, “This is one lucky turtle.”

The turtle had breathing problems and was minimally responsive, Merigo said. Through testing, they found out the turtle hadn’t been taking “good breaths for quite some time” and they later found sea water in its lungs.

“The first night was touch-and-go and we were in a very guarded condition,” she said. “We didn’t know if it was going to be alive the next morning.”

The water temperature was 54 degrees Friday, Prescott said, a temperature the turtle should not have been affected by due to its size.

“A turtle this size should not have stranded at the temperature it was stranded at,” Merigo said, adding that it likely wasn’t able to due to underlying health conditions.

Although the turtle has since been improving, it isn’t out of the woods yet, according to Merigo.



Breanne Kovatch can be reached at breanne.kovatch@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @breannekovatch.