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At a sea turtle hospital housed at an old New England shipyard, a biologist leans over a table and uses a needle to draw blood from a sick loggerhead before tagging its flailing flipper.
These were the first tentative steps toward a return to the ocean for this juvenile nicknamed Honey Bun and hundreds of other loggerhead, Kemp's ridley and green turtles stranded this winter on Cape Cod beaches.
Number - Water - Turtles - Beaches - Decade
The number of warm water turtles stuck on beaches here has risen dramatically in the past decade, according to the Mass Audubon's Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.
This year, volunteers recovered 829 helpless turtles washed up on the sand - about half of them dead including some frozen solid.
That's nearly twice what they found in 2016 and 10 times more than in 2008.
Cape Cod is believed to have one of the largest annual turtle strandings in the world. There are occasional strandings in Florida, Texas and as far north as the Chesapeake Bay.
Events - Snaps - Dozen - Couple - Thousand
But those tend to be isolated events connected to cold snaps involving a few dozen to a couple of thousand turtles.
Some experts think New England's spike in cold-stunned turtles is a climate change story with a twist: the hook-like projection of Cape Cod into the Atlantic helps trap turtles drawn there by warming waters but weakened when the ocean cools down.
Turtles - Systems - Pneumonia
Most rescued turtles suffer from compromised immune systems and pneumonia due to hypothermia.
Exposed to cold water for prolonged periods, they become lethargic and can't move or eat. The ones that survive take months to recover.
Guys - December - Adam - Kennedy - Biologist
'When these guys get here, they look like they are dead, especially in December,' said Adam Kennedy, a biologist at New England Aquarium's sea turtle hospital in Quincy, Massachusetts.
In the past decade, many turtles have been moving farther northward from the Gulf of Mexico...
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