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Endangered sea turtles hit by cold snap in New England

November 25, 2008 |  1:30 pm

Kemp's Ridley sea turtle

From the Associated Press:

WELLFLEET, Mass. — A cold snap has caused a high number of endangered sea turtles to wash ashore dead on Cape Cod beaches.

Thirty Kemp's Ridley sea turtles — the world’s most endangered sea turtles — have been reported on the beaches since Thursday. Nineteen were dead.

Tony LaCasse, spokesman for the New England Aquarium in Boston, called the mortality rate "way off the charts." Sea turtles suffering from hypothermia often wash ashore in November and December.

When the animals' heart rates and body temperatures fall, they become immobile. Wind blows them to shore, where they risk freezing to death. Volunteers walk the beaches to look for stranded turtles. Survivors are brought to the aquarium, where workers try to bring up their body temperatures.

Photo: Kim Christensen/for the Times

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