Cape Cod National Seashore to Host Presentation on Sea Turtles

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Date: July 29, 2015
Contact: Sue Moynihan, 508-957-0738

Join Mass Audubon's Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary Director Bob Prescott for a free, one-hour presentation at 7 PM on Tuesday, August 11, about the turtles found in local waters and the challenges they face.

Cape Cod's waters are an important developmental habitat for juvenile sea turtles and an important feeding area for jellyfish-eating leatherbacks. During the summer months, sea turtles get entangled, hit by boats, or confused and beach themselves. In the late fall they face a different challenge. The Cape has long acted as a giant "net," trapping a variety of marine animals in Cape Cod Bay. Every year as ocean temperatures drop, a cold wall of water forms preventing turtles from leaving the much warmer bay waters. As fall progresses, the bay temperature rapidly decreases sending the turtles into a hypothermic, shock known as cold stunning, in which they become powerless to swim against the currents and are blown ashore by strong winds.

The 2014 stranding year was the largest stranding on record with 1240 turtles stranding. Of those turtles that stranded, approximately 60% were alive when they came ashore, and, with the help of the New England Aquarium, over 90% of those turtles are still alive today. Of the 1240 turtles that stranded, 1187 were Kemp's ridleys, the most endangered species of sea turtle in the world (96%), 23 were loggerheads (2%), and 30 were green sea turtles (2%).

Bob Prescott is the director of the Massachusetts Audubon Society's Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary where he has been actively involved in coastal issues and research.Bob has a degree in Wildlife Biology from the University of Massachusetts and has studied such diverse topics as whale strandings, seal distribution around Cape Cod, and the home range of box turtles.

Bob serves as the Southeastern Massachusetts coordinator for NOAA/NMFS's Northeast Sea Turtle Stranding Network. Bob's particular interest is coastal ecosystems and the wildlife, both vertebrate and invertebrates, associated with them. He has led trips to Belize, Costa Rica, the Galapagos Islands, Churchill, Manitoba, and Antarctica, as well as to many places in the U.S. such as Big Bend, Texas and Kearney, Nebraska. He is on the board of the Friends of the Herring River and the Orleans Conservation Trust.

This upcoming program is part of the annual "Tuesday Evening Series" at Salt Pond Visitor Center in Eastham.Held weekly at 7 PM in the summer in the air-cooled comfort of the visitor center auditorium, programs cover the diverse natural and cultural resources of the Outer Cape and are suitable for all ages, free of charge and accessible. The series is sponsored by the Friends of the Cape Cod National Seashore.

IF YOU GO:Salt Pond Visitor Center is located at the intersection of Route 6 and Nauset Road in Eastham, and can be contacted by calling 508-255-3421. The center is open from 9 AM to 5 PM and staff is available to assist with activity planning. Stop by and visit the museum, view a park film, enjoy panoramic views of Salt Pond and Nauset Marsh and shop in the book and gift store featuring interpretive items such as books, maps, puzzles and games. For more information about the seashore's programs, visit the park website at


Last updated: July 29, 2015

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99 Marconi Site Road
Wellfleet, MA 02667


(508) 255-3421

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