Get Email Updates

See a Tangled Turtle? Call Our Hotline

This is the time of year when leatherback, loggerhead, green, and Kemp's ridley sea turtles are in our local waters, with many sightings reported around Cape Cod. The Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies has successfully disentangled six leatherback sea turtles already this summer, and we may see more in the coming weeks as the water remains warm.

Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies staff disentangling a leatherback sea turtle. (Credit: PCCS).

Beached Turtles

If you find a live sea turtle on the shore, tangled or not, it may be sick or injured beyond what you can immediately see. In New England, healthy sea turtles should not be on beaches or out of the water. If they are, there is likely a medical issue that requires professional attention.

Make the Call

Stranded or entangled sea turtles or marine mammals: 866-755-6622 (NOAA).
Entangled turtles or marine mammals in MA: 800-900-3622 (Center for Coastal Studies).
Also, USCG Channel 16.

Stand By Your Turtle!

We need you to keep the animal in sight and wait for responders to arrive. If the animal is alive and breathing when you find it, it's very unlikely to die within hours of its first report. Like any first responders, we need time to get on scene, so please stay with the animal and try to reduce any stress on the animal as much as possible. Sea turtles are very strong, and a stressed animal can act unpredictably, so keep people and pets at a safe distance.

Our Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding and Disentanglement Program includes animal care professionals, researchers, and veterinarians with years of experience disentangling and treating injuries to sea turtles, seals, and other marine mammals. They will evaluate the animal and determine the best course of action.

Helping One, Helping All

Some marine mammals and all sea turtles are listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Leatherback and Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are listed as endangered, while green and loggerhead sea turtles in our region are listed as threatened, so it’s especially important that we use every opportunity to get individuals healthy and back into the population.

Also, we have met some of these turtles before. Some of them are tagged, either with metal tags or with implanted PIT tags, much like we use in cats and dogs. For example, the Virginia Aquarium recently treated a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle for a hook injury. The tag told us that Wellfleet Audubon had rescued it when it washed up cold-stunned in Cape Cod Bay in November 2014. It was treated by New England Aquarium, sent to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center for more rehabilitation, and released on February 25, 2015 at New Smyrna Beach, Florida.

Each bit of data about these turtles helps us better understand their movements and habitat use, and we can use that information to further protect them and help recover the species.

Find out more about our Sea Turtle Program.

Questions? Contact Jennifer Goebel at 978-281-9175 or email jennifer.goebel@noaa.gov.