2014 Turtles: Unprecedented Transport

Since we are in the midst of an unprecedented sea turtle stranding season, we rely on partners to help with the long rehabilitation phase in the recovery of cold-stunned sea turtles. Once we stabilize their health here in Quincy, many turtles are carefully transported to other rescue facilities up and down the East Coast for rehab—a long process that can take months.

Most of the turtles transported to other facilities were small Kemp's ridleys, anywhere from 3 to 10 pounds.

Yesterday was an epic day for sea turtle transports—fitting for an epic stranding season. Before dawn, 193 critically endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles loaded into padded boxes and transported by a Coast Guard plane to Orlando, where they were distributed to seven marine animal rehab facilities in north and central Florida. At mid-morning, a private jet flew 50 Kemp’s and green sea turtles to North Carolina for distribution to the aquariums there.

Here's just a sampling of what this busy day looked like.

This is what it looked like before the transport: Boxes along a wall staged and waiting for the early morning transport team to begin removing turtles from the tanks for the big US Coast Guard transport.

Volunteers began removing turtles to prepare them for the USCG transport at 4:00 am!

Boxes with turtles carefully tucked in for the transport are lined up with their paperwork,
ready to be loaded into a waiting transport trailer.

IFAW came and picked us up in their heated animal transport trailer and sent people to help us load the plane.

Loading the IFAW trailer was a team effort, many volunteers pitched in to carry turtles.

Unloading the trailer and loading the planes | Photo: S. Heaslip for Cape Cod Times via Twitter

A turtle gets ready to head south | Photo: S. Heaslip for Cape Cod Times via Twitter

The turtles arrived at rescue facilities in Florida to begin the long phase of rehabilitation before
release into the wild | Photo: Bob Shackelford with WSTP via Twitter

You can help, too. If you see a stranded turtle, please cover it with a layer of seaweed, mark it and call Mass Audubon at Wellfleet Bay at 508-349-2615. These are endangered turtles so every one you save counts a lot! Another way to help is by supporting the Aquarium and our rescue efforts. Thank you.

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