More than 400 sea turtles have stranded along north-shore beaches on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and are in need of transport to aquariums where they can be cared for, Leslie Weinstein told AVweb on Saturday. Weinstein, of Boise, Idaho, is a board member for the Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research at the University of Florida. Several kinds of migratory turtles, which spend the summer in New England waters but head south in winter, have been driven ashore by a sudden drop in water temperature and strong onshore winds. Weinstein is coordinating the aviation effort, working with state and federal officials to secure transport from the Air National Guard, and also working with Pilots N Paws and other volunteer groups to solicit help from general aviation pilots.
“As of yesterday, we’ve shipped 51 turtles so far,” Weinstein said. “We have over 400 to go.” Once the turtles are transported to an aquarium near a warmer site, they can’t be released immediately, Weinstein said, but must first recover from their ordeal. Any pilots who would like to help can contact Weinstein by email. “Please put ‘sea turtles’ in the subject line,” Weinstein said, “to be sure I open it right away.”As of Saturday night, Weinstein said aquariums were volunteering to accept the turtles in Baltimore, North Carolina, Texas, Louisiana, and Florida, with more in the works. Rescuers were spreading the word that facilities are needed for the turtles, Weinstein said, and he expects that list of destinations will continue to grow over the next few days.
All sea turtles are protected by the Endangered Species Act, according to the Massachusetts Audubon Society. Every year, turtles will turn up stranded on Cape Cod beaches as the season changes, but this year the number of stranded turtles is higher than usual.