Where to Learn More About Sea Turtles & Turtle Rescue
By Randolph Pfaff, live blue Service Corps Volunteer
Every autumn, the New England Aquarium gears up to rescue and rehabilitate cold-stunned sea turtles stranded along Massachusetts beaches. These efforts are critically important for the conservation of endangered Kemp’s Ridley, loggerhead, and leatherback sea turtles. Volunteers are a key part of this effort, participating in the rescue, intake, assessment, and treatment of hundreds of turtles each year. But why do these turtles strand? How do we help them, and why are these conservation initiatives necessary? One of the most interesting aspects of volunteering in this field is learning how our work in the field connects to the Aquarium’s mission.
Our Rescue and Rehab Department and various partner organizations around the region have an array of resources to answer these questions. To help you learn more about why turtles end up stranded, what happens to turtles after we rescue them, and how our work fits into larger conservation efforts, we’ve organized a list of resources for further reading.
All About Sea Turtles & Cold Stunning: Which sea turtles are protected? Why? What is cold stunning, and how do we help?
- Sea Turtle Overview (NOAA Fisheries) — A brief introduction to sea turtles species, threats and protection, conservation efforts, and a wealth of links to sites with more information about conservation.
- Sea Turtle Cold Stunning Overview (NOAA Fisheries) — Get the facts about cold stunning, why it happens, and which turtle species are affected.
- Sea Turtles on Cape Cod (Mass Audubon) — A look at local species of sea turtles, information about cold stunning, and what to do if you find a cold-stunned turtle on the beach.
- Why Are Endangered Sea Turtles Showing Up Cold and Seemingly Lifeless on Northeastern Shores? (Smithsonian Magazine) — An in-depth look at thirty years of cold-stunning research and conservation efforts.
- Seaturtle.org — A significant source of information about sea turtles, including a glossary and image library containing thousands of rescue-related photos.
- Sea Turtle Sighting Hotline — In addition to serving as a resource where boaters can report sightings and alert responders to turtles in danger, this site includes an overview of turtle species (with photos and videos) and a map of turtle sightings viewable by species and date.
- How to Help Turtles (Mass Audubon) — Learn what you can do to help both freshwater and saltwater turtles.
Conservation at the New England Aquarium & Beyond: What are we and our partners doing to help sea turtles and other stranded marine animals?
- Sea Turtle Rescue (New England Aquarium) — Seasonal updates about the Aquarium’s conservation efforts, including frequent updates on turtle rehabilitation and release.
- Marine Animal Rescue Program (New England Aquarium) — An overview of the Aquarium’s rescue efforts along with information about how to help stranded animals and who to call for assistance.
- Marine Animal Health (Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at New England Aquarium) — A look at the Center’s ongoing research into the impact of the built environment and climate change on marine animals.
- NOAA Sea Turtle Program (NOAA Fisheries) — Overview of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s sea turtle conservation efforts in the Atlantic Ocean.
- To Track a Sea Turtle (Oceanus Magazine) — Learn how the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution uses tagging and underwater autonomous vehicles to track sea turtles.
- National Marine Life Center — Located in Buzzards Bay, NMLC is a hospital for marine animals and an education center for scientists and the public.
Conservation Outcomes and Impact: What are the results of our rescue efforts?
- How the New England Aquarium Averted a Sea Turtle Apocalypse (Boston Magazine) — A detailed look at the Aquarium’s efforts during the 2014 season, when 665 Kemp’s Ridley turtles were stranded on Cape Cod beaches.
- Reflections on the 2016 Cold-Stunned Sea Turtle Stranding Season (Mass Audubon) — Highlights and data from last year’s rescue efforts at Mass Audubon.
- Colder weather brings spike in turtle strandings (Cape Cod Times) — A chronicle of the frenetic start to last year’s turtle rescue season.
- Sea Turtles Appear to Be Bouncing Back Around the World (The New York Times) — A good reminder that the efforts of small teams can lead to big positive changes for turtle populations.
- Sea Turtle Week 2017 (NOAA Fisheries) — A series of features on the current state of sea turtles and conservation efforts.
Ready to get involved? You can apply to join our rescue and rehab efforts through the episodic Turtle Emergency Response Volunteer position, or apply to a 6-month, weekly committed position with the Rescue and Rehab department.