Sea turtles get acupuncture treatment

QUINCY, Mass. -- Two endangered sea turtles that are shells of their former selves after getting stranded on Cape Cod during a cold spell are getting some help easing back into the wild -- from an acupuncturist.

Dexter and Fletcher Moon, juvenile Kemp's Ridley sea turtles, remained calm as acupuncturist Claire McManus gently tapped more than a dozen needles into their grayish-green, leathery skin during a therapy session intended to decrease inflammation and swelling on their front flippers, restore a full range of motion on those limbs and help the animals regain their appetites.

"There aren't a lot of people doing sea turtle acupuncture," said McManus, who works alongside a vet to find parts of the marine mammals' bodies corresponding to locations where acupuncturists put needles to treat front limbs. "There is not a whole lot of literature out there on turtle acupuncture, so I'm basing it on how we treat other animals and humans." McManus uses particularly thin needles for sea turtle acupuncture.

"The needles, they are tiny, no bigger, like having a mosquito bite. You notice there's no blood," McManus said.

Dexter and Fletcher Moon were among a record number of more than 400 turtles of various species that got stranded on Cape Cod and the southern Massachusetts shore over the winter.

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