BOSTON (WHDH) - The New England Aquarium is treating over 150 hypothermic sea turtles after warmer ocean temperatures delayed the start of the annual stranding season.

The turtles began to strand on Cape Cod on Nov. 18. Staff and volunteers from Massachusetts Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary have been walking the beaches in search of cold-stunned turtles and transporting the animals to the Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital, where they are treated for life-threatening medical conditions, including dehydration and pneumonia.

So far this season, Aquarium staffers have treated 153 sea turtles, including 120 critically endangered Kemp’s ridley turtles and 33 green turtles.

“In years past, cold-stunned sea turtles would begin to wash ashore in late October,” Adam Kennedy, Director of Rescue and Rehabilitation, said in a statement. “Milder weather means the waters of Cape Cod Bay are staying warmer for a prolonged period of time, which we believe could be a sign of climate change’s impact on the Gulf of Maine.

The Aquarium works closely with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Fisheries Service, the non-profit organization Turtles Fly Too, and other partner organizations to help transport and rehabilitate the animals. To make room for new arrivals at the Sea Turtle Hospital, some stabilized turtles are transported to secondary rehabilitation facilities.

On Sunday, more than 40 turtles from the New England Aquarium and National Marine Life Center were flown to the South Carolina Aquarium, Georgia Sea Turtle Center, and Atlantic Marine Conservation Society in New York. Another 12 turtles made their way to Mystic Aquarium by ground transport last week. Other more critical turtles will remain at the New England Aquarium while they recover.

The number of annual cold-stunned sea turtle strandings in Massachusetts varies from year to year, but has steadily increased from around 50 in 2000 in more than 700 in 2021.

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