Global warming is affecting sea turtles, who are getting stranded on beaches close to Cape Cod. Sea turtles get stranded up in the area due to warming waters. A 2019 paper linked warmer waters in the Gulf of Maine to “cold-stunned” sea turtles in Cape Cod Bay.
According to Mass Audubon,the warmer waters lure the turtles into security, but then they end up “stunned” when the waters turn cold or experience storms. They then get trapped in Cape Cod Bay or other northern waters. Because the waters in the Gulf of Maine warming, species are lured north to because they think those waters are hospitable.
Paper author Lucas Griffins aid of the phenomenon, “We were surprised the results suggested this increase was linked with warmer sea surface temperatures,” turtles and other species are, “exhibiting a similar shift in both habitat distribution and in phenology patterns.”
Because of this, the number of turtles that get washed up and stranded on Cape Cod Beaches are rapidly increasing. In the 1970s, the numbers were under 10. In 2014, over 1,200 sea turtles were found on beaches around Cape Cod, a record. Kemp’s ridley is one of the species most affected by this warming. They are critically endangered sea turtles that nest in shores along the Gulf of Mexico.
This year, by December 2019, close to112 sea turtles had already been rescued from Cape Cod beaches by mass Audubon volunteers. Stranded turtles are taken back to a sanctuary where they are tagged, and cared for. They are then flown down to Florida to be put back into the water.
Wildlife groups and scientists are working to rescue turtles when they get stranded on Cape beaches. Kara Dodge, a research scientist at the New England Aquarium told the Guardian that if climate change continues, “the prediction is that we will continue to see these high-stranding events, hundreds of animals, for the foreseeable future.”
This is just another obstacle that Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are facing that lead to their endangered status. They are also endangered due to human collection of eggs and killing of turtles for meat. Other types of sea turtles are also facing problems related to plastic pollution and half of baby sea turtles population dies from consuming plastic!
Sign this petition demanding protection for the endangered baby sea turtles of Cape Cod.
This article was first published by OneGreenPlanet on 27 December 2019.
What you can do
Support ‘Fighting for Wildlife’ by donating as little as $1 – It only takes a minute. Thank you.