Rescued, Endangered Turtles Enjoy a Free Ferry Ride to Warmer Waters
Cape May, NJ, Lewes, DE—October 14, 2015—This past Sunday, a young Kemp's Ridley turtle, the most endangered turtle species in the world, and an endangered young Green Sea Turtle, rarely seen this far North, enjoyed a complementary Ferry ride. They came onboard the Cape May-Lewes Ferry with their handler Troy Platt and his truck from the Marine Mammal Stranding Center (MMSC) in Brigantine.
The turtles, estimated to be between 3 and 4 years old, or younger, traveled from Cape May to Lewes, en route to their final destination , near Virginia Beach, where four different organizations joined together for a mass release into the ocean. In addition to the MMSC, the other organizations were the New England Aquarium, National Aquarium at Baltimore and Virginia Aquarium.
Founding Director of the non-profit MMSC, Bob Schoelkopf, explained that the Cape May-Lewes Ferry has been transporting their turtles, seals and distressed dolphins for 35 years. "The Ferry ride helps provide a needed break to the driver, not to mention a thrill for passengers and crew," said Schoelkopf. "The turtles seem comfortable with the swaying movement of the boat, and best of all, while on board, our staff gets to observe dolphins, whales, and loggerhead sea turtles on the Bay, as well as seabirds. It's a great experience for a nature enthusiast," added Schoelkopf.
"The Marine Mammal Stranding Center does an outstanding job saving endangered mammals," said Heath Gehrke, Director of Operations for the Cape May Lewes Ferry. "It's a great privilege for us to play a continuing role in helping these mammals reach safe waters".
The two traveling ferry turtles were rescued by the MMSC after they were caught in intake pipes at the Oyster Creek Generating Station, in Forked River, NJ. The MMSC has rescued half a dozen turtles at this location this year, and over the same period, 50-80 turtles in total up and down the NJ coast from various situations, including entanglement in lines.
"This time of year, it's critical to the turtles' survival that they move to warmer water. They become lethargic in cold water, where they will slow down and often die," said Schoelkopf.
The reason the turtles are endangered is because they are killed in the Caribbean for food--turtle meat and eggs--or for their shells which are sold to tourists, explained Schoelkopf. "Now if a traveler tried to get into the U.S. with a turtle shell, they wouldn't be allowed, but it's still too late to save that turtle."
Turtles Travel on Cape May-Lewes Ferry, Page 2
About The Marine Mammal Stranding Center (MMSC)
The MMSC has responded to over 4,500 strandings of whales, dolphins, seals and sea turtles that have washed ashore, over the years, throughout New Jersey. A private, non-profit organization, the MMSC was started in 1978 by Robert Schoelkopf, who remains the Founding Director, as well as a handful of volunteers and a C.E.T.A. grant. Originally based in Gardner's Basin in the inlet section of Atlantic City, the Center is now located on the barrier island of Brigantine, which borders coastal New Jersey's largest wildlife refuge. All funding comes through donations, grants, memberships, and fund-raising efforts. To join or receive further information call 609-266-0538, email, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.mmsc.org Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @BrigantineSeals.
About the Cape May-Lewes Ferry
The Cape May — Lewes Ferry is owned and operated by the Delaware River and Bay Authority, a bi-state governmental agency created by Compact in 1962. The Ferry is open year-round and has carried more than 43 million passengers since its inception on July 1, 1964. In 2013, the ferry service, which connects Victorian Cape May, New Jersey, and historic Lewes, Delaware, transported approximately 275,000 vehicles and nearly 1 million passengers. For schedule, rates and other program information, please visit the ferry's website at www.CMLF.com, or call toll free, 800-643-3779. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @CMLFerry.