Geography can confound the life of a sea turtle. Turtles will migrate any place where the water is warm, and many end up in New England during the warm summers. When the waters off Cape Cod Bay quickly turn cold in the fall, they find returning to the sea difficult. Stunned by the cold, they become disoriented and end up stranded in the cape, often injured by waves bashing them against the land. These sea turtles include Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, the most endangered sea turtle species. The stranding is natural and has happened for thousands of years, but climate change has worsened the problem, and when a species is critically endangered, every turtle counts.
To help these turtles make it back to their semitropical nesting grounds, turtles airlifts were organized, involving conservationists, volunteers, turtle rehab facilities, several organizations, and a group of pilots who run the organization Turtles Fly Too. The effort involves the public finding distressed turtles, rehab centers keeping them alive, flights to the Gulf of Mexico, more wildlife rehab for the turtles, and finally, freedom in the warmer waters near the turtles’ nesting areas. Read how all that comes together to save Kemp’s ridley and other sea turtles at Atlas Obscura.
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