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Don Lewis, Massachusetts Audubon Society,
Fox Island Wildlife Management Area

Deep Freeze — 24 November 2000

The Sanctuary’s recovery room transformed into a morgue as frigid conditions grip Cape Cod Bay.  Three frozen Kemp’s ridley sea turtles lay in a row.  Two had washed ashore on Truro’s bayside beaches; the third was discovered in Orleans’ Rock Harbor.  All dead on arrival.

A fourth ridley was found by beach walkers as she came in with the tide at Linnell Landing in Brewster this morning.  With an internal body temperature of 32.7 degrees, there was little hope.  While her skin still seemed fresh to the touch, there was no observable reaction to stimuli, and her lungs seemed filled with water.

Our informal running tally shows 15 “LK” (Kemp’s ridleys) sea turtles recovered since 1 November, one of which (ST-00-21) may have been a leftover from last year’s strandings.  And with air temperature dropping into the low 20s, wind chill in the single digits, and water temperature recorded yesterday at 2.5 Celsius, there remains little but hope and prayer for a miracle to save any ridleys still lingering in the bay.

Conditions are ripe, though, for the first loggerheads — with their greater body mass and tank-like resilience -- to make an appearance.