Turtle Journal Sea Turtle Coverage Featured at New England Aquarium

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The Turtle Journal Team traveled to the Boston waterfront to tour the New England Aquarium on Sunday.  We had been told by friends and associates that Turtle Journal coverage of sea turtle strandings on Cape Cod was featured in a new exhibit.  Last year Tony LaCasse, director of media relations and spokesperson for the aquarium, asked us for video footage of beach rescues of cold-stunned sea turtles.  While there’s lots of quality media coverage of medical treatment and rehabilitation, there’s very little material of actual field rescues … because one has to be on the spot when the discovery and rescue are made.  There’s no time to dawdle on the beach while camera crews respond to the rescue scene.  Cold-stunned turtles need immediate attention if they are to survive.

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Tiny Kemp’s Ridley Rescued by Turtle Journal Team

Fortunately for us, the Turtle Journal team totes cameras on our sea turtle patrols to document events as they occur.  For instance, integrated into the New England Aquarium documentary on the sea turtle stranding story is coverage of our rescue in fall 2008 of a tiny Kemp’s ridely sea turtle from a Brewster beach.  (See Tiny Kemp’s Ridley Rescued in Freezing Conditions and the accompanying video clip Rescuing Tiny Kemp’s Ridley.)  The report and photograph of this rescue appeared in the national newspaper, USA Today, on November 26th, 2008.

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Turtle Journal’s Sue Wieber Nourse Delivers Rescued Turtle

More coverage of that rescue was included in the aquarium documentary with a clip of Turtle Journal’s Sue Wieber Nourse delivering the tiny Kemp’s ridley to Wellfleet Bay for triage (see video Kemp’s Ridley Triage), as well as footage of the video clip, Triage to Treatment (Wellfleet to Boston), which highlights the ambulance ride from point-of-rescue at Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary to point-of-treatment at the New England Aquarium.

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Russ and Kerry Barton Recover Cold-Stunned Loggerhead

Another rescue highlighted in the New England Aquarium documentary was the recovery of a 60-pound loggerhead from Point of Rocks in Brewster by Russ and Kerry Barton in late November 2008.  The Bartons had donated to the National Marine Life Center auction at the 2008 Mermaid Ball to win the chance to patrol for sea turtles with the Turtle Journal team.  Their adventure was presented in the story,  Turtle World Turned Upside Down, and received front page coverage in local newspapers (Dozens of Cold-Stunned Turtles Wash Up).

We are delighted to contribute our original Turtle Journal material to the New England Aquarium documentary and exhibit.

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Juvenile Kemp’s Ridley in Rehab at New England Aquarium

And, besides, the visit to the New England Aquarium gave us a chance to visit with rescued turtles from the 2009 stranding season.

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Turtle Medical Charts for Cold-Stunned Sea Turtles

Once we … like turtle EMTs … rescue stranded, cold-stunned sea turtles from the Cape Cod Bay each fall and attempt to stabilize their condition for transport, they are dispatched as quickly as possible to the New England Aquarium for intensive medical care.  Many turtles remain at the aquarium for long-term rehabilitation until the following August when they can be safely returned to the ocean on the south side of Cape Cod to continue their interrupted journey southward.

Cold-Stunned Juvenile Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles in Rehab

Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are critically endangered with vastly diminished numbers.  Yet, because of their particular lifecycle behavior as juveniles, the overwhelming majority (~ 90%) of cold-stunned sea turtles in Cape Cod Bay are Kemp’s ridleys.  This fact is especially amazing considering that Rancho Nuevo, Mexico remains the predominant nesting grounds for this species, with some ridleys transplanted to and now nesting at Padre Island in southwest Texas.

Cold-Stunned Juvenile Green Sea Turtles in Rehab

Arguably, the most attractive of sea turtles are the greens.  This year yielded many juvenile green turtles in the fall cold-stunning event.  Numbers for stranded greens have been growing the last decade.

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Myrtle the (Adult Green Sea) Turtle in the Ocean Tank

Besides seeing how well our 2009 rescued turtles are doing, we love to re-visit our perennial favorites in the large, circular ocean tank.

Adult Sea Turtles in New England Aquarium Ocean Tank

We are amazed each visit by the excitement generated among aquarium visitors by the sight of the huge adult sea turtles in the circular ocean tank.  Kids and adults stare at large tropical fish; they gawk as speedy rays swim across the glass; they ooh in awe when the enormous sharks glide by.  But they truly come alive and bounce in joy whenever any sea turtle cruises into view.  “It’s a turtle.  Look.  Can you see it?  A Turtle!  Do you see the turtle?”  As if one could miss a 400-pound green sea turtle that fills the entire viewing glass and blocks the light with its massive frame.  The connection between people and turtles is a mystical, magical, marvelous wonder that knits them together in a way that advances the most profound and existential interests of both species.

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