Cold-stunned loggerhead sea turtles will return to wild after rehabilitating at Wonders of Wildlife
A dozen loggerhead sea turtles are preparing to return to the wild after a rehabilitating stay at Wonders of Wildlife.
The sea turtles were found stranded along the coast of Cape Cod due to a phenomenon known as “cold stunning” and brought to the aquarium in December 2020.
In usual circumstances, migrating sea turtles will forage in coastal habitats along the northeastern shores before heading south to warmer waters. Because of the hook-shaped peninsula at Cape Cod, some turtles get disoriented and can’t continue migrating. Once the temperature gets below 50 degrees, hypothermia leaves sea turtles with what’s called “cold stunning,” and the creatures began to be beached.
In an online update, Bass Pro detailed the 14-week rehabilitation that involved the work of WoW aquarists and care specialists.
“We’re practicing what we preach when it comes to that conservation effort,” said Mike Daniel, general curator, via blog post. “This was a cool instance because none of these animals were ever going to stay here. These were animals that needed help to get back to the wild.
Because the dozen arrived before Christmas, they were given mostly reindeer names, including: Dasher, Vixen, Comet, Olive, Dancer, Blitzen, Donner, Rudolph, Prancer, Clarice, Cupid and Chet.
“Some of them were matched to their behavior: Vixen is the worst biter, Comet is one of the fastest swimmers and Prancer is a troublemaker, for example,” Bass Pro stated.
When the sea turtles first arrived, one was injured and four had pneumonia. It took antibiotics to clear the pneumonia, get them eating well on a diet and back to full strength, according to Bass Pro.
Cold stunning happens on an annual basis, and last year’s set a record. Eastern rehabilitation sites were at full capacity and left these 12 sea turtles heading to the Midwest. Facilities must meet strict requirements put in place by NOAA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in order to rehabilitate sea turtles, according to the news release.
A grant from Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund helped Wonders of Wildlife get funding and permits in record time rather than waiting a usual two years.
No official date was given for when the sea turtles would be released.
Sara Karnes is an Outdoors Reporter with the Springfield News-Leader. Follow along with her adventures on Twitter and Instagram @Sara_Karnes. Got a story to tell? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.