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April 17, 2015
Contact: Teri Frady


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Three Kemp's ridley sea turtles resting in their rehabilitation pool. Photo Credit: Teri Frady, NEFSC/NOAA

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Turtle Moving Day at the Woods Hole Science Aquarium

Itchy, Scratchy, and Pinky, three endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtles, have been recovering at the Woods Hole Science Aquarium after stranding on Cape Cod just before last Christmas. This week, they were fully healthy and ready for a trip south where they will be released into warm ocean waters off the Southeastern U.S.

The turtle trio were among the more than 1,000 that were stunned by cold waters and then stranded on Massachusetts beaches and in areas to the south at the end of last year. Most washed ashore on Cape Cod, where the cold-stun season is typically November and December. The previous record, set in 2012, was 481 in the northeast region, with 413 of them in Massachusetts. A typical year will have between 50 and 200 cold-stun strandings.

Sea turtle "cold-stunning" events usually happen when coastal New England waters have remained warm enough that seasonal visitors like Kemp's ridley turtles are still present late in the year. If the waters get cold quickly -- usually because of a storm event -- then cold-blooded turtles can get hypothermia and strand. Once rescued, the stranded turtles get continuous care and monitoring during recovery from pneumonia or other complications of cold-stunning. The WHSA provides a place where turtles can convalesce once they no longer need critical care.

Itchy, Scratchy, and Pinky are among about three dozen turtles transported from New England facilities for release this week. Their first stop was the National Aquarium in Baltimore, where they are taking a breather before transport to North Carolina, where they will be loaded onto a boat for release.

Take a look at our slide show to see how we prepared the turtles for their ride.

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(File Modified May. 10 2016)