Trick or Treat TURTLE!

Now when most people think of Halloween, a few familiar things come to mind. Most people would think of pillowcases full of candy, toothless jack-o-lanterns, all sorts of crazy costumes, and of course the droves of trick or treaters coming to the door.

Here at the New England Aquarium's marine animal care center in Quincy, we had a different kind of trick or treater knocking on our door. Like most trick or treaters, it was well disguised and the costume consisted mostly of a thick green algae covering, along with a few small barnacles. Truly an eye opening presentation only mother nature could conjure up! No no it wasn't Swamp Thing, or the creature from the black lagoon.

It was a cold stunned Kemp's ridley sea turtle! THE FIRST OF 2011!!!!!

This juvenile Kemp's ridley stranded on Marthas Vineyard on October 30, was put on the ferry from Vineyard Haven to Woods Hole, and eventually spent that evening with our partners at Mass. Audubon's Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary in Wellfleet, Massachusetts.

The first cold stunned turtle of the year receiving its very first exam. When sea turtles strand from cold stunning, they will often have algae growing on them, as seen above on this turtle.

When this turtle arrived in Quincy, its internal temperature was a chilly 52.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Like their reptilian counterparts, sea turtles are cold-blooded. These animals, also known as ectotherms, rely on their external surroundings to regulate their body temperature, and to help them stay warm. So the first step is to slowly increase this turtles internal body temperature until it reaches 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit. (We increase 5 degrees Fahrenheit each day.)

A temperature controlled unit helps us moderate the animals internal body temperature, and the turtle will spend its first few nights here.

These turtles need constant supervision and support during this time as they are very immobilized by their hypothermic state.

Carrie Thistle, one of the Rescue department's volunteers each Monday, supports the turtle during its very first swim session.

So now its day 2 and our turtle is hanging in there. Its temperature is slowly climbing and our blood analysis tells us that this turtle's internal workings are moving in the right direction. This ridley has had quite a journey and now its time turn in for the night at a toasty 60 degrees!

We have yet to decide on a name for the first sea turtle of the 2011 season, but I can tell you that our theme this year is, drum roll please..................................................... Superheros and Villains!

Until next time,



  1. That is so great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. i like the name beast