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WINDSOR, ENGLAND - APRIL 17: The Duke of Edinburgh's coffin, covered with His Royal Highness's Personal Standard is carried to the purpose built Land Rover during the funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh at Windsor Castle on April 17, 2021 in Windsor, England. Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark was born 10 June 1921, in Greece. He served in the British Royal Navy and fought in WWII. He married the then Princess Elizabeth on 20 November 1947 and was created Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, and Baron Greenwich by King VI. He served as Prince Consort to Queen Elizabeth II until his death on April 9 2021, months short of his 100th birthday. His funeral takes place today at Windsor Castle with only 30 guests invited due to Coronavirus pandemic restrictions. (Photo by Adrian Dennis/WPA Pool/Getty Images)
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(CNN) —  

A total of 173 sea turtles died off Cape Cod, Massachusetts, this week because of the extreme cold, according to Mass Audubon Director Bob Prescott.

Prescott said 227 cold-stunned turtles were recovered from the Gulf of Maine since Wednesday, but only 54 lived. Mass Audubon, the largest nature conservation nonprofit in Massachusetts, regularly patrols the beaches this time of year looking for cold-stunned turtles, Prescott said.

But this was many more than they expected, he said.

Volunteers process the incoming turtles this week at Mass Audubon's Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.
Mass Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary/from Facebook
Volunteers process the incoming turtles this week at Mass Audubon's Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.

“This was way too cold,” Prescott said. “Everything was slushy by yesterday morning. Some of them are small. It didn’t take long for them to freeze.”

Most sea turtles migrate between areas where they can find food and areas where they can give birth, and typically to warmer waters, according to SEE Turtles, a conservation tourism project that aims to protect sea turtles.

Prescott told CNN he attributes the deaths of the turtles to global warming.

“The Gulf of Maine prior to 2010 was too cold for sea turtles to come into,” he said.

CNN’s Dave Alsup contributed to this report.