Aquarium warming stranded sea turtles

It’s not just humans who have to brave the cold weather as temperatures drop. Each year beach walkers from the Massachusetts Audubon Sanctuary on Cape Cod are on the lookout for stranded sea turtles suffering from hypothermia.

Two such sea turtles, weighing 3 and 5 pounds, were taken to the New England Aquarium’s Animal Care Center in Quincy for treatment after they were found in Dennis and Brewster Tuesday with body temperatures of less than 58 degrees.

Although sea turtles, being cold-blooded, can survive with low body temperatures, they are susceptible to infections. The aquarium is warming the turtles by 5 degrees a day for four days until their body temperature reaches slightly more than 70 degrees. In comparison, humans begin to experience mild hypothermia when body temperatures reach 95 degrees.


The two reptiles rescued Tuesday are Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles, the most endangered sea turtle in the world, the aquarium said. Each summer they migrate north to Cape Cod to feed on crabs. By autumn large numbers of them need assistance finding their way south. Eventually, after some therapy, the rescued turtles will be released to warmer waters, the aquarium said.

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Audubon volunteers spent Thursday searching for turtles that were expected to appear after Wednesday’s nor’easter.

Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles are considered to be the smallest marine turtle in the world, but adults can weigh up to 100 pounds and grow up to 28 inches in length, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration.

Sarah N. Mattero can be reached at

Correction: Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this story misidentified the turtles’ animal class. They are reptiles.