Archive for November, 2014

Cape Cod Sea Turtle Rescues Smash All Time Record

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

Sue Wieber Nourse Rescues 5 Lively Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles from Frigid Cape Cod Bay

Friday morning, the 21st, the 500th cold-stunned sea turtle of November 2014 was rescued from a windy, freezing Cape Cod Bay.

Sue Wieber Nourse Adds Another Rescued Turtle for Triage at Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary

This extraordinary moment was marked only briefly as more and more turtles continued to arrive at MAS Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.  The in-take room at the sanctuary held dozens of endangered Kemp’s ridleys, several green sea turtles and a large, lonely loggerhead in the top right corner.

Live Cold-Stunned Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle at Fisher Beach, Truro

Sue and I patrolled the high tide flooded Truro-Wellfleet bayside from Fisher Beach in the north through Ryder Landing and Bound Brook Island to Duck Harbor in the south.

Live Kemp’s Ridley Rescued from Ryder Beach in Truro

A ferocious west-northwest wind churned powerful breakers and tossed cold-stunned Kemp’s ridley and green sea turtles onto the wrack line.

Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle Stranded on Cape Cod Bay Beach

Two Green Sea Turtles, One Pecked by Seagulls But Quite Lively 

I recovered seven Kemp’s ridleys and two green sea turtles from the north section.

Cold-Stunned Kemp’s Ridley at Bound Brook Island, Wellfleet

Stranded Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle at Duck Harbor, Wellfleet

Sue rescued nine Kemp’s ridleys from the pounding surf to the south.

Cold-Stunned, But Alive Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle

Obviously stunned by the cold, nearly all responded with signs of life and most began “swimming in the air” as we gently cradled them off the beach.

Cold-Stunned Kemp’s Ridley Tossed Ashore by Cape Cod Bay Breakers

Kemp’s Ridley Deposited on High Tide Wrack Line by Wind and Surf

Cold-Stunned Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle at Bound Brook Island, Wellfleet

While we can’t share the marrow-deep chill, our icy soaked feet, the deafening surround-sound roar and the acrid briny smell, we offer these documentary snapshots of this memorable day. Enjoy!

Turtle Journal Vehicle Filled with 10 Endangered Cold-Stunned Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles

Marine Stranding Field School Encounters Sea Turtle Tsunami

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Juvenile Green Sea Turtle Rescued on Saturday Night

The MAS (Mass Audubon) Marine Stranding Field School encountered a sea turtle stranding wave of record proportions this past weekend with nearly 50 cold-stunned Kemp’s ridley and green sea turtles.  One day alone saw 28 strandings, the largest number since 1999.  One hundred fifty cold-stunned sea turtles washed ashore on Wednesday smashing all previous one day records, exceeding the number of animals rescued in most full years!

Pre-Dawn Sea Turtle Patrol on Sunday

Rescuers recovered sea turtles from Cape Cod Bay beaches from Brewster to Truro, processed & stabilized them at MAS Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, and then transported them to the New England Aquarium facility in Quincy. An extraordinary experience for field school participants with a truly life saving and live altering outcome.

MAS Staff Rescues Juvenile Green Sea Turtle from Ryder Beach in Truro

Juvenile Green Sea Turtle Receives Helping Hand

Measuring Juvenile Green Sea Turtle’s Length with Calipers

Field Schoolers Examine Rescued Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle

Close Up of Cold-Stunned Juvenile Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle

Measuring Curved Length of Cold-Stunned Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle

Weighing Cold-Stunned Juvenile Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle

Rescued Cold-Stunned Sea Turtles Boxed for Transport to Quincy

Juvenile Green Sea Turtle (Bottom); Juvenile Kemp’s Ridley (Above)

Cold-Stunned Sea Turtles Ready for Ride to New England Aquarium

Never Too Young to Learn About Cape Cod Sea Turtle Rescues

Friday, November 14th, 2014

Newly Born Diamondback Terrapin Hatchlings Make Friends

The Turtle Journal team presented the amazing rescue story about sea turtle strandings and entanglements in Cape Cod Bay and Buzzards Bay to an enthusiastic audience of Marion, Mattapoisett and Rochester students in an afternoon program at the Marion Natural History Museum on November 14th. As if on cue, immediately following this presentation cold-stunned sea turtles began stranding on Cape Cod Bay beaches, breaking all records with more than a thousand mostly Kemp’s ridleys, some green sea turtles and a few loggerheads rescued within the next ten days. Three of our local “sea turtle” hatchlings (diamondback terrapins), born the previous weekend, made an appearance to the delight of all.


Brief Summary of Cape Cod Sea Turtle Stranding Phenomenon

NPR Cape and the Islands science reporter Tracy Hampton interviews Turtle Journal’s Don Lewis in 2003 about the annual stranding of cold-stunned sea turtles in Cape Cod Bay.  An extract of the audio interview is mixed with imagery to help illustrate the event.  For the full interview, click here.

Never Too Young to Learn About Turtles

Sue Wieber Nourse Talks About Her Caribbean Research on Hawksbills

Don Lewis Inspires Rapt Attention

Sue Wieber Nourse Showcases Terrapin Hatchling

Sue Wieber Nourse Contrasts Snapping Turtle with Sea Turtles

Diamondbacks of New England

Monday, November 10th, 2014

By Tom Richardson, New England Boating

Female Diamondback Terrapin #815 in Blackfish Creek

(Click here for full article by Tom Richardson in New England Boating)

In the fall of 1998, Sue Wieber Nourse was lecturing in her marine science lab at Tabor Academy in Marion, Massachusetts, when a small, olive turtle scrambled across the threshold of the open door and into the room. Unsure of what species it was, she checked it against her reference sources and identified it as a juvenile diamondback terrapin, the only estuarine turtle in North America. What made the discovery especially intriguing was that diamondback terrapins were thought to be extinct in the Marion area, where shoreline development has eliminated much of their habitat.

Sue Wieber Nourse Examines Diamondback Terrapin in Sippican Harbor

It wasn’t until a few years later that Wieber Nourse attended a talk given by turtle researcher Don Lewis. When she told Lewis of her discovery, he immediately volunteered to scout the Marion waterfront for likely diamondback habitat. By the time their investigations were over, Wieber Nourse and Lewis had found several spots where the turtles might still be able to live, breed and nest. And 2 years later they were married, brought together by a most unlikely matchmaker.

Don Lewis Eye-to-Eye with Newborn Terrapin Hatchling

Don Lewis meets a lot of people through turtles, including this writer, who read about the Marion discovery in a local newspaper. While that alone was enough to pique my interest, the same article also mentioned that nesting diamondbacks had been found in Aucoot Cove, where I happen to live.

Diamondback Terrapin Nesting on Aucoot Cove Beach off Buzzards Bay

Terrapins among us? This was news indeed!

Diamondback Terrapin Hatchlings from Aucoot Cove off Buzzards Bay

Hunting for Terrapins

(Read full New England Boating article on line by clicking here.)

Female Diamondback Terrapin #829