Sea Turtles Arrive at MARC

Sea Turtles Arrive for Care

One of the most important aspects of the work we do at MARC is provide care to sea turtles.  When you think of New England, sea turtles aren’t typically an animal that comes to mind.  But sea turtles are a huge part of marine animal rehabilitation efforts in the New England area.  Sea turtles are reptiles that enjoy warm water temperature, in fact, they rely on warm water temperatures to maintain proper bodily functions, since as reptiles, they do not generate their own heat.  Sea turtles naturally enjoy the warm summer waters of the mid-atlantic and northeast US and some even make their way into Cape Cod Bay for summer feeding.  As fall comes around and the temperatures cool, many of the turtles become trapped by the cold temperatures too quickly to return to the warmer waters.  As a result the turtles become hypothermic – the condition is known as “cold-stunning”.  The turtles may float ashore with reduced heart rate, decreased circulation, extreme lethargy, shock, and pneumonia.  In some cases the less fortunate turtles are found dead.

Sea turtle rehabilitation in New England is spearheaded by Mass Audubon Society and New England Aquarium - who work in collaboration to rescue, stabilize and rehabilitate the turtles in their critical condition. During any given fall, between 50 and 300 turtles may wash ashore in a matter of weeks.  As the New England Aquarium rescue program becomes overloaded with turtles, they may transfer groups of turtles for secondary, long-term rehabilitation.  This is where MARC steps in.  

MARC Students and Volunteers Prepare to Unload Turtles 

At MARC, we have an entire enclosure dedicated to the care of these magnificent animals.  Sea turtle species worldwide are all considered endangered or threatened populations, so we are thrilled to provide a home to the animals as they heal and provide superb medical care to prepare them for their return to the wild.  So far this year, we have assisted by taking in four large loggerhead sea turtles.  These turtles, ranging from 30 to 100 pounds each, area all happily swimming in their pools.  Their pools are heated to an optimal “turtle happiness temperature” – of 75 degrees Fahrenheit.  This is a nice, warm temperature for the turtles to recuperate.  The turtles are all receiving care from our staff and volunteers, which includes feed, medicating and performing diagnostics, like blood work and x-rays.  As we get to know these sea turtles better in the coming weeks, we’ll provide more insight into their recovery.

MARC Veterinarian, Dr. Michele Sims, measures the heart rate of sea turtle “Andes” using a Doppler

MARC Technician, Asheley, takes a blood sample from “Maple”

MARC Technician, Shannon, and student, Nate, place “Andes” into pool for first swim.

“Andes” takes a first swim.

Every donation counts and every dollar goes a long way to helping these animals.  Consider a contribution and help save a turtle’s life today.

“The Marine Animal Rehabilitation and Conservation Program at the University of New England’s Marine Science Center is committed to the education of marine students and to the advancement of marine mammal and sea turtle science and conservation through conscientious rehabilitation and ethically-based research practices that lead to the release of individuals and maintenance of healthy populations.  We aim to prepare the next generation of marine scientists for meaningful careers through hands-on learning and the promotion of a culture of marine environmental stewardship.”

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