Thirty-five threatened sea turtles are safely recuperating in the Florida sunshine after they were found suffering from hypothermia in Cape Cod.
This year, a record 150 sea turtles have been rescued from the cold by the New England Aquarium Rescue Program, causing shelters in the region to run out of room.
The NOAA Fisheries Northeast Region Stranding Network teamed up with members of the Coast Guard, who flew on a C-130J aircraft from their home base in Elizabeth City, N.C., to Cape Cod, Mass., on Friday, where they picked up 35 of the turtles to transport to the sunshine state.
The turtles, which included 20 of the extremely rare Kemp’s Ridley species and 15 Loggerheads, were dropped off at five wildlife recovery centers in Florida, including Sea World in Orlando, where they will spend the winter season recovering, according to a news release from the Coast Guard.
It’s too soon to say when the animals will be able to return home, said Susan Flower, spokeswoman for SeaWorld Orlando. The theme park’s rehabilitation center is caring for 20 of the turtles.
“Our goal is always to return animals back to their natural environment,” she said. “Really it just depends on how they’re doing. We evaluate them, we have our team with them all the time.”
The SeaWorld facility has plenty of experience working with turtles, Flower said, and has also cared for rescued manatees, birds, dolphins and pilot whales, among other marine animals.