Last cold-stunned Cape Cod sea turtles released

From left: Sea Turtle, Inc. Chief Conservation Officer Dr. Amy Bonka; Rehabilitation Specialist Chris Gorman and Facility Maintenance Director Joe Blonigen walk newly rehabilitated sea turtles next to a crowd of onlookers preparing for their release. Photo by Gaige Davila.

By Gaige Davila 

Three sea turtles from Cape Cod, sent to Sea Turtle, Inc. from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, after they were cold-stunned last winter, were released into the Gulf of Mexico this past Monday, in Sea Turtle, Inc’s first public turtle release since the COVID-19 pandemic.

The turtles were the last of 20 turtles from Cape Cod, flown in from Massachusetts on Dec. 8 last year. 

Beachgoers and news crews await the release of three rehabilitated Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles cold-stunned in Cape Cod last December. Photo by Gaige Davila.

“We are so excited,” Wendy Knight, Sea Turtle, Inc’s executive director, told the PRESS from Cameron County Beach Access #4, where the turtles were released, calling the event a “return to normalcy” at Sea Turtle, Inc.

The three Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles stayed at Sea Turtle, Inc. for five months, rehabilitated and monitored for upper respiratory infections. Sea Turtle, Inc. had received the turtles last December, just a few months before the largest sea turtle cold-stun event in recorded history, where over 5,300 sea turtles were recovered from the Laguna Madre and the beaches of South Padre Island.

“We spent an inordinate amount of time planning for them,” Knight said. “Never did we envision that they were going to be the dry run for more than 5,300 turtles. Six months later to see (the Cape Cod turtles) finally go and be healthy is the culmination of a very, very hard six months and a very challenging year for a lot of people.” 

Knight said more public sea turtle releases are imminent once more Sea Turtle, Inc. turtle patients are rehabilitated. Sea Turtle, Inc. will announce releases on their social media pages.

Sea Turtle, Inc. Aquarist Maria Watson holds one of three rehabilitated Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles before releasing it into the waters of Beach Access #4. Photo by Gaige Davila.

“It’s really critical to us that as soon as the (sea turtle) is ready we return them as quickly as possible,” Knight said. “Sometimes you may get a couple of days’ notice, sometimes you may get a day’s notice.” 

For more information about Sea Turtle, Inc., visit

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