Rehabilitated sea turtles returned to sea off Cape Cod beach today as Aquarium’s Director of Animal Health testifies in D.C.


Sea Turtle Rescue Assistance Act seeks funds for stranding care work

Several people on a beach with boxes of sea turtles
New England Aquarium staff, interns, and volunteers gather on Cape Cod to release rehabilitated sea turtles.

BOSTON, MASS. (July 21, 2022) – Seven endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles that were rescued last winter on Cape Cod and later rehabilitated by the New England Aquarium were returned to the ocean waters off Cape Cod early this morning.


At the same time, Dr. Charles Innis, the Aquarium’s Director of Animal Health, went to Washington, D.C. to testify in favor of the new “Sea Turtle Rescue Assistance Act,” sponsored by U.S. Congressman William R. Keating who represents the South Shore, Cape Cod, and the Islands. The legislation would establish a grant program to pay for the recovery, care, and treatment of stranded sea turtles around the country, allocating $5 million a year between 2023 and 2028, to fill a crucial gap in sea turtle conservation.

“My work, and the work of my colleagues, has demonstrated that injured and ill sea turtles suffer from a variety of serious physical and physiologic problems,” Innis testified today before the House Natural Resources’ Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife. “Turtles often require intensive veterinary care for weeks to months before they can be returned to the wild, and our success rate is high. This work is expensive.… This bill will improve our ability to provide care to stranded sea turtles in the U.S., and it will improve our ability to understand the value and long-term outcome of our efforts.”

Staff and volunteers with Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary rescued the turtles that were released this morning after they washed ashore cold-stunned in November and December 2021. The turtles were then taken to the Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital in Quincy, MA, where staff treated them for a variety of life-threatening medical conditions, including hypothermia, pneumonia, and bone fractures. After physical examinations, staff veterinarians cleared the seven turtles to return to the ocean today.

For more than 30 years, the New England Aquarium has helped rescue, rehabilitate, release, and research endangered and threatened sea turtles. This past turtle stranding season, the Aquarium admitted more than 500 turtles for medical care, working closely with Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, National Marine Life Center, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Fisheries Service, and Turtles Fly Too to save the animals and transfer many to partner organizations to continue rehabilitation. There are four more turtles remaining at the Quincy facility, which will be released this summer once medically cleared by Aquarium veterinarians.

*SPECIAL NOTE: Dr. Charles Innis’s written testimony is also available upon request.


Pam Bechtold Snyder –, 617-686-5068