Dozens of dead turtles wash ashore on Cape

From Cape Cod Times

By Wheeler Cowperthwaite
Posted Nov 22, 2018 at 11:40 AM Updated Nov 23, 2018 at 12:43 PM

WELLFLEET — Low temperatures and high winds killed most of the more than 80 turtles that washed ashore Thursday morning in Brewster, Orleans and Eastham.

Jenette Kerr, communications coordinator for Massachusetts Audubon Society’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, said most, but not all, of the turtles coming into the sanctuary are dead.

“We are at well over 400 cold-stunned turtles (for the year) — 82 today, the vast majority of them frozen solid,” Kerr said. ”(Wednesday) we had 87, the vast majority of them alive. Drastic change in the weather overnight. Most of the turtles are coming in from Brewster, Orleans and Eastham. We fear we may get more frozen turtles on (Thursday night’s) and (Friday’s) high tides.”

Fifty turtles were stranded between Wednesday night’s high tide and Thursday morning. “Most are dead,” Kerr said.

The more than 400 sea turtles that have come ashore since Oct. 22 surpassed the average for a stranding season, which generally runs from around Thanksgiving to Christmas. The tropical turtles — mostly small Kemp’s ridleys, some green turtles and a handful of large loggerheads — are trapped by cold water in Cape Cod Bay and their metabolism shuts down.

According to the National Weather Service, there is a gale warning in effect off the coasts of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.

A wind chill map released by the weather service shows temperatures of zero in Hyannis and 1 below zero in Provincetown.

Kerr said the high northwest winds are blowing turtles toward beaches in Brewster, Eastham and Orleans. Those areas are marked by shallow water, which is colder than the deeper water in the rest of the bay.

“Everything that’s coming in this morning is dead,” she said. Most of the turtles that came ashore on Thursday are Kemp’s ridleys, but there were three green turtles and a small loggerhead.

Once the immobilized turtles are blown onto shore, they face cold air temperatures and wind chill.

It is so cold that the beaches have frozen, making walking difficult, she said.

If the turtles were being blown toward Truro or Wellfleet, they likely would have a higher survival rate because of the deeper water, which is warmer than the water over the flats. While the bay temperatures cause cold stunning, they don’t necessarily kill.

“It’s the bad wind and these very low temperatures,” she said.

The turtles are coming in literally frozen, hard as bricks.

Read the full story here.

HT/MER

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42 thoughts on “Dozens of dead turtles wash ashore on Cape

      • The sea turtles are the canary in the coal mine.

        The turtles are the posterchild of the climate change.

        The sea turtles are the turtlometres of the ocean.

        This is a logical consequence of ocean heat content growth exceeding the heat of millions of Hiroshima sized nuclear bombs. The ever hotter ocean water can’t mix any more with the abruptly cold water, leaving the poor turtles exposed to cold winter weather. This all is partly caused by Donald Trump. Should the white racist women vote for Hillary, the turtles would have better chances of survival.

        • Once I stopped laughing, I became depressed.

          This is a likely soliloquy by the ManBearPig in his next mockumentary.

      • +1, except for the dead turtles…

        “the models predicted that the models would predict” – a useful phrase to describe almost any future bad event that can be blamed on “climate change”.

  1. If they ever have another global cooling scare,
    I would be genuinely nervous, just because a cooling world would be scary.

    • Yes, it would be.
      NASA: From February 2016 to February 2018, “global average temperatures dropped by 0.56 degrees Celsius.” the biggest two-year drop in the past century.

      • Meh, climate changes naturally, has always changed. Nothing to worry.

        (other than major volcano, earthquake, cosmic debris hit, solar eruption, near supernova, near hypernova, near black hole formation, near black hole activation, …)

      • ‘average temps dropped by 0.56 degrees Celsius, the biggest drop in the past century’, Anyone who studied the Sun in a serious manner would have known that this was going to happen. Nothing new here. 🙂 And it will get colder.

    • Terrible news, but we all know that cold kills. Question is if this sort of thing is a freak “once in a lifetime” event as suggested by some media or if it is a forewarning of what is to come?

      • It’s going to get colder, Bent. Nought to do with AGW. Learn about the Sun, and you’ll understand. And invest in warm clothing.

  2. CTM, the turtles survived the LIA, Kennedy crashing into them from the bridge, fishing, heating, cooling, etc. I’m guessing they will survive this President Trump-inspired rebuttal to global warming. By the way, I would be interested in eating a fresh-frozen turtle, excuse my praticality.

    • Ron,

      “excuse my practicality”.

      Nothing to excuse, that’s good lateral thinking. Also, from the article,

      “The turtles are coming in literally frozen, hard as bricks.”.

      So we could build a house from them?. How’s that for practicality?

      I’m here to help.

  3. Heartbreaking news!

    I spent a week on a dive boat at the Great Barrier Reef in NE Australia in 2005. On one of my first dives, a large sea turtle swam by, right in front of me – Magic!

    On my very first dive, I came face-to-face with a 5ft reef shark – that was rather alarming, although they rarely attack. This one looked me over, decided I was too big and tough to bother with, and headed for the appetizers – the thousands of colourful small fish that were visible everywhere.

    Blue-bottle jellyfish were common, and we all got stung. One guy took a break at the swim platform with his mouthpiece out, and a jellyfish wrapped around his mouthpiece and he put it back in his mouth – now that hurt – and he got huge Mick Jagger lips.

    This was one of the best weeks of my life – I strongly recommend it, and suggest snorkeling over scuba – the colours disappear below about 20 feet, and most everyone can free-dive to 15-20 ft depth.

  4. so wheres greenpeas protesting the cold? knitting cute jumpers etc
    Id think the natural death rates would exceed their present campaign yelling over ingested plastic killing turles
    though it does happen and is nasty and we shouldnt dump plastics etc etc.
    elsehwere the rescue people admitted the increased death toll is probably in part due to protecting them and the higher numbers in the area to BE chilled, over prior low volumes.

  5. OK so….

    I was a sea turtle researcher and I can tell you right now…this is sad, but it is not that alarming. Sea turtles are not the intellectual giants of the turtle kingdom and the article does not say if these are juveniles (I am going to assume they are), which is not surprising at all.

    This happens all the time. Given the odds of a sea turtle making it to adulthood, dozens of juveniles (again assuming as that would be along with observations) being caught in a frozen wasteland is just a drop in the bucket.

    For those that are interested, 1 in 1000 babies will reach juvenile stage and out of those only 1 in 1000 will reach adulthood (reproductive age).

    • So seeing an adult sea turtle is a one-to-million-chance? 🙂

      I didn’t know they produce so many eggs to compensate the natural selection running amok.

    • So only one in a million make it from egg to reproductive age. If they can reproduce for 50 years, they need to produce 20,000 eggs per year. Apparently even simple math is not a requirement for turtle research.

      • What’s an extra zero or two between friends?!

        I was wondering about what species we talk here about, because turtles do hard (expensive) eggs afaik, and the count per turtle is less than 1000 per year. You’d need to turtles that are 1000 years old to reach million. But one out of 10,000 could be not so far ftom truth, right? 100 x 100, not 1000 x 1000.

  6. Winter came early this year. The cold will kill off those turtles that have the epigenetics for malingering in the food-rich waters of the Bay until late in the year.

    It’s OK. Completely natural, except the part where humans are rescuing them and no doubt, saving them from their defects and send them south to breed. This will allow the ‘foolish’ gene expression to be passed along to more descendants.

    Can turtles out-evolve the stupidity of humans? We’ll see.

    • Take Attenborough voice.

      “These remarkable creatures of tropical waters swim to Iceland every year, where volunteer workers collect them, put them in a warm bath, feed them until they strengthten and send them to their natural breeding areas. It is fascinating how this mutual interspecial connection has evolved. Why would these animal swim here…”

      Camera zooms out, Sir David standing in a pool with turtles.

      “only to be sent back as air mail? Scientists have no idea.”

  7. NPR “Truthspeak” propaganda version:

    “…Scientists say that the naturally migratory turtles are heading farther north as climate change warms the planet’s oceans. Some are now summering in the Cape Cod Bay, where they become trapped “by the Cape’s hook-shaped geography,” the sanctuary said.

    Blocked from migrating down to warmer waters, the turtles are left vulnerable to volatile weather, like this week’s cold snap and gale-force winds…”

    NPR wants you to know that “cold is warm” and is the result of dangerous anthropogenic global warming.

    • I’m sure some scientists will say that. I say turtles freezing to death is rather a natural consequence of turtles trying to spread as far as they can.

      As Just Jenn just said, they produce a lot of ‘reproduction’ and almost all of them die before reproduction.

      • I might go so far as to say these turtles have demonstrated what “reaching the extremes of their habitable range” means.

    • An “explanation” with no numbers to back it up, presented as fact. Nice try, NPR. Propaganda indeed.

  8. The article I read blamed climate change for drawing the turtles further north than usual, as if their path back south would not have warmed as well.

    • Well of course. Climate change causes record heat, as well as record cold, all within a limited time span. It likewise causes record droughts, as well as record floods, again within a limited time span.

      Unprecedented!

  9. In Virginia Beach today they had to rescue some that were too stunned by cold water to swim on their own, but still alive.

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