The Massachusetts Audubon Society rescued nine very cold Kemp’s ridley turtles, a critically endangered species, in Cape Cod Bay over the weekend.
The turtles were taken to the New England Aquarium’s Animal Care Center in Quincy for rehabilitation from hypothermia, said Tony LaCasse, an aquarium spokesman.
The weekend rescues brought the aquarium’s current number of turtles in its care up to 11. LaCasse pointed to that as a sign the turtle numbers would be normal this year despite low numbers of hatched sea turtles.
“The number of eggs from the nesting season was disappointingly low this year,” he said. “We’ve been debating whether there would be a lot of turtles this season or not. The folks who bet on low numbers are starting to sweat a little.”
In a typical season, which runs from November through the end of the year, the Audubon Society and aquarium rescues 90 to 100 of the small animals. Two years ago, the aquarium took in a record 242 rescued sea turtles, LaCasse said.
“Our efforts are especially important because of how endangered these turtles are,” LaCasse said. “They’re a species in slow but modest recovery.”
Over the past 20 years, the Audubon Society and aquarium have rescued, cared for, and released more than 1,000 sea turtles.
The stranded turtles are usually in need of rescue because they can’t navigate their way out of the confusing Cape Cod Bay. The aquarium’s animal care center treats the hypothermic turtles for everything from pneumonia to kidney problems, with an 85 percent to 90 percent success rate in rehabilitating the cold-blooded reptiles.
“The remarkable thing about these animals is that as they get colder, they just slow down,” LaCasse said. “As long as they have a heartbeat even once a minute, we can revive them.”