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Sea turtles depend on warmer waters for their survival
Over the past month a record number of sea turtles, most of which have been critically endangered Kemp's Ridley Turtles, have been rescued from stranding on the beaches of Cape Cod in New England, reports the Massachusett Audobon Society.

Normally, around 90 sea turtles strand on the Cape on their migration from the beaches of Mexico to Cape Cod Bay.

Sea turtles spend the warmer months in Cape Cod waters, then swim south to Mexico for the winter each autumn beginning in November. But some turtles get "caught" by the hook of Cape Cod.

Sea turtles that take their body temperature from the environment around them and when the water temperature of the Bay gets down to 50 degrees F they become cold-stunned.


Their circulation and other bodily functions slow down, they become unable to swim and so are at the mercy of the wind and currents.

When the wind blows from the north or northwest they get washed ashore along Cape Cod Bay and if they are not found, they die from exposure.

Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary runs the largest annual cold-stunned sea turtle rescue programme. Since the sea turtle stranding season began in early November, Wellfleet Bay has rescued or recovered more than one thousand turtles.

This already exceeds the number processed in each of the last 15 years and no one really knows why.

On November 21 the Wellfleet sanctuary set a new record of 157 endangered sea turtles rescued in one day. This is the largest number that Wellfleet Bay has processed in a single day in its more than 30 years of rescuing sea turtles.

Connie Merigo leads a team at the New England Aquarium Hospital that has treated 700 turtles in around a month and a half. She said that almost all the turtles are malnourished and suffering from hypothermia.

However, officials have said that despite the trauma of rescuing the turtles, the number of strandings could be said to signal good news because it shows that conservation efforts are working.

"Two years ago, in 2012, this year class of turtles left the beach, and there was 600,000. That was the most baby Ridleys ever leaving the beach in Mexico," Mass Audobon Sanctuary Director Bob Prescott says.

"The number of turtles we are seeing may well mean that conservation is working, and that there are more turtles in the Bay.

"Decades ago, sea turtles nearly went extinct. Protection of their nesting sites and species conservation appear to be paying off.