A 655-pound leatherback sea turtle that was found stranded and near death off the tip of Cape Cod was taken to the New England Aquarium and released back into the water following treatment.
The 7-foot, 655-pound sea turtle was given medications to stabilize his glucose and oxygen levels, which the aquarium said were “very low” when it was discovered Wednesday in Pamet Harbor, near the tip of Cape Cod. It was also treated for dehydration, trauma and shock.
Even though the sea turtle weighs a little more than a third of a third of a ton, it was actually underweight when it was brought to the aquarium. You can view the turtle's rescue and return to the water in the video below.
“Leatherback sea turtles are among the world’s largest reptiles, and adults commonly weigh in excess of 1000 pounds,” the New England Aquarium said.
The 655-pound sea turtle was taken to the aquarium’s Marine Animal Care Center for the treatment and outfitted with a satellite tracking tag on its shell so it could be monitored before being released back into the waters off Cape Cod Saturday, the aquarium said.
The prognosis for the sea turtle was described by the aquarium as “unclear.”
“Although this leatherback was not in ideal condition, Aquarium officials decided that the animal’s best chance of survival was back in the sea with its blood values stabilized and energy restored,” the aquarium said.
Aquariums do not make for an ideal place to house leatherback sea turtles because of their mammoth size. They also have problems running into the walls of their tanks.
“These endangered giants rarely strand alive and have usually survived for just a couple of days in an aquarium setting,” the New England Aquarium said.
The waters off Cape Cod are a typical sighting for sea turtles. The endangered creatures migrate up the East Coast starting in June to feed on jellyfish and head back south in September and October, according to the aquarium.
The aquarium described the effort to return the 655-pound sea turtle back into the waters:
“Ten staff took their positions reviewing the detailed plans for several different scenarios. The monstrous, seven foot turtle quietly clambered about the stern deck. That activity level was a good sign. Once sufficiently off-shore, the stern rail was opened, and the big male pulled forward with his huge front flippers and dropped a foot into the water. He dove deep right away and did not re-surface within sight of the boat. That is normal behavior for healthy leatherbacks that had been handled during the research field work. A couple of early hits came in off of his satellite tag indicating that he was moving.”