Sea turtles get acupuncture treatment

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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.

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"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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