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"Extremely rare" 350-pound loggerhead among 150 cold-stunned turtles rescued from Cape Cod beach

Turtle species saved from extinction
Turtle species saved from extinction 01:00

More than 150 endangered sea turtles, stunned from the cold weather, washed ashore on Cape Cod over the weekend. Among them was a massive 350-pound loggerhead, in desperate need of rescue. 

According to the Massachusetts Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, strong winds last week brought in about 150 turtles to beaches from Dennis to Truro. Volunteers "walked day and night" along the beaches to rescue them. 

On Friday, the Truro Department of Public Works rescued the 350-pound adult male loggerhead and brought him to the sanctuary. He is now being cared for at the New England Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital in Quincy. 

A big sea turtle save on the beaches of Truro this afternoon! Thanks to the Truro DPW for loading this very large adult...

Posted by Mass Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary on Friday, November 20, 2020

"This is a significant discovery, since it is extremely rare to get an adult male loggerhead in our area, much less this early in the season," the aquarium wrote on Facebook.

Officials said the turtle was not breathing on his own and was only "minimally responsive." He is receiving medication and replacement fluids until he is more stable. 

Officials said that all of the estimated 150 turtles are now being treated by veterinarians from the New England Aquarium and the National Marine Life Center (NMLC). Many of them have also been relocated for long-term rehabilitation.

"We are grateful to have been able to give these cold-stunned sea turtles a second chance," NMLC wrote on Facebook.

A 350lb adult male loggerhead #SeaTurtle was saved on the beaches of Truro yesterday afternoon thanks to Mass Audubon...

Posted by New England Aquarium on Saturday, November 21, 2020

According to the wildlife sanctuary, hundreds of sea turtles can wash up on the Cape's bayside beaches each fall, including the critically endangered juvenile Kemp's Ridleys, the smallest sea turtle species. Larger loggerheads can strand in late fall, but are much less common. 

"Even though they may appear dead, many of these turtles are in fact alive," the sanctuary said. 

Officials recommend beachgoers who may come across stranded turtles to first carefully move is above the highest tide line, cover it completely in dry seaweed and contact the sanctuary. It is important to never put the turtle back in the water. 

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