TV Show Lauds GA Sea Turtle Effort

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On Saturday, Sea Rescue, a TV show produced by ABC, will showcase last winter’s efforts by general aviation pilots to help relocate endangered sea turtles stranded on Massachusetts beaches. The program follows the journey of the “great turtle airlift,” as GA pilots volunteer their time and their airplanes to help transport the turtles to facilities that can care for them until they’re ready to be released into the wild. More than 1,000 turtles were stranded on Cape Cod last winter, overwhelming the capacity of local zoos and aquariums. GA pilots pitched in to transport the turtles to rehab centers around the country. "It may be the largest airlift ever to save endangered animals," says Leslie Weinstein, who organized the airlift.

The rescue effort has continued this winter, though on a smaller scale, Weinstein told AVweb this week. Local weather has been generally warm and quiet. “The season started off very slow with only a few turtles picked up by the Wellfleet Audubon Society,” he said. The New England Aquarium rehab center was able to take care of those turtles, he said, so no GA airlift was needed. By mid-December, as it grew colder and windier, more turtles were affected.

On Dec. 30, a PC12 operated by PlaneSense transported 50 endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles to a safe facility. This Monday, five loggerhead sea turtles were transported from Massachusetts to aquariums in Georgia and South Carolina, via a charter flight donated by the Worcester Airport. The turtles were part of a recent cold-stun event that resulted in the stranding of more than 400 sea turtles on local beaches.

Local times and stations for the Sea Rescue show on Saturday can be found here.

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