On July 27 our Marine Animal Rescue Program team took in a stranded female loggerhead sea turtle found near the inlet in Ocean City, Maryland by the Coast Guard. The turtle was observed floating near a rock jetty – in the surf headed for the rocks. The Coast Guard retrieved the turtle after noticing signs of exhaustion and failed attempts to swim away. She was transported to the Aquarium’s hospital pool in Baltimore later then evening.
Upon arrival she weighed 57 lbs, which is about 10-15 lbs under normal weight. The most interesting observation of the turtle was that she was covered in all kinds of epibionts (mussels, barnacles, algae, crabs, worms, etc.) upon retrieval, as you can see in the before and after pictures. The rescue team removed about 10 lbs of epibionts from the poor turtle. She also had many embedded barnacles on the carapace, plastron, limbs and head and has suffered superficial scale loss on all limbs.
The MARP volunteer team will monitor the turtle’s progress over the next few months. Tests are currently being conducted to find probable causes for her lethargic nature and lack of buoyancy, which permitted the epibiota to flourish, making it harder for her to move through the water.
The ultimate goal is to release the turtle back to the sea after rehabilitating her back to a normal state of health, which could take up to six months. We are happy to report that she is becoming more active and seemingly stronger by the day, and is eating squid on a regular basis. Please check back for periodic updates on her progress!