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Late winter catches turtles napping, forces New England Aquarium to transfer record numbers to Florida.
A record number of endangered sea turtles stunned by the cold are washing up near Boston this year, prompting wildlife agencies to transfer the animals south to warm up over winter.
The cold weather arrived later than usual, but when it did arrive it came with more force, The Associated Press reported.
Cape Cod Bay, with its hooked arm extending into the Atlantic Ocean, normally traps between 50 and 200 turtles between October and December.
With the winter weather, "cold-stunned" turtles are unable to navigate waters properly and get caught by the Cape.
As of Saturday, the New England Aquarium had already collected 221 turtles.
“We’re pretty similar to a big city ER on a Saturday night,” the aquarium’s Tony LaCasse told the AP.
Most of the animals arrived in Florida on Friday, with Sea World and the Volusia County Marine Science Center in Ponce Inlet each taking loggerhead turtles.
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Others washing up are the Kemp’s ridley and green species.
“In addition to the sheer volume of sea turtles, we’re also coping with an unusually high number of hefty loggerhead sea turtles,” aquarium staff wrote in a blog post.
“We usually see maybe a half-dozen loggerheads in a year. This year we’ve already seen almost five times that many.”
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration arranged for a Coast Guard plane to fly the turtles south.
Upon arriving in Orlando, they were distributed to other centers in Florida, The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.
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