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MARATHON (CBSMiami/FKNB) – A special delivery is on its way to the Turtle Hospital in Marathon.

The facilty was one of five marine convalescence centers in the state chose to receive a portion of 193 cold-stunned endangered Kemps Ridley sea turtles set to arrive in Orlando late Tuesday afternoon.

A Coast Guard transport aircraft is flying the reptiles housed house in banana boxes from the New England Aquarium that received the reptiles after they were rescued from Cape Cod Bay beaches.

After the aircraft lands, the turtles — about a foot in length — are to be divided and ground-transported to the Turtle Hospital and other Florida facilities at Disney World, Sea World, Gumbo Limbo and the Miami Seaquarium.

According to the “Cape Cod Times,” nearly 1,000 of the juvenile turtle have already been recovered, and the New England Aquarium has treated nearly 400 animals, almost double the record for a full year.

Turtle Hospital Manager Bette Zirkelbach said the turtles destined to the Keys should arrive late Tuesday night or early Wednesday and she anticipates receiving even more reptiles from the northeast at a later date.

Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles spend the warmer months in Cape Cod waters and migrate south for the winter. But some turtles get trapped by the hook shape of Cape Cod on their voyage south, and they become hypothermic once water temperatures drop.

The Florida Keys News Bureau contributed to this report.


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