Dear 11-Year-Old Me,
You and all your girl friends will soon develop an obsession with sea turtles. Go with it — you’re on to something good. For example, did you know they can fly?
You. I mean me. I mean future you. Erin. Whatever.
Four juvenile Green Sea Turtles (Chelonia mydas), and a rare Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle, (Lepidochelys kempii), swam to health and freedom from a nearby beach this past weekend. Volunteers and biologists at the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation nursed them back to normal after they were found stranded on Long Island beaches this past winter. These young turtles, who summer as far north as Cape Cod, stayed in northern waters too late, and when the ocean chilled past their operating temperature, they stiffened up too much to swim to safety. It’s called cold stunning, kind’ve like hypothermia for reptiles. The frigid waves pushed them onto shore, where beachwalkers found them and called for help. They swam back into the surf on Saturday, bound for glory. Fingers crossed.
With luck, the Green Sea Turtles might grow to 5 feet, as long as I am tall, and weigh nearly 450 lbs. Each one now carries a transponder that will help researchers learn more about their lives, especially this mysterious juvenile period before they mature. And they’ve already served as animal ambassadors to Long Islanders, young and old alike.
While we were waiting for the turtles to arrive, I overheard a little girl near me tell her mom, so earnestly it nearly broke my heart, “I bet the sea turtles can’t wait to go home!” She was right: