Thoughtful Thursdays: Update on Rescued Sea Turtles

2013 is off to a busy start!

As we mentioned in a previous post, our Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) is currently caring for seven patients in our Animal Care Center’s sea turtle rehab area. All of our patients have come from the New England Aquarium, where there has been a historic influx of cold-stunned turtles.

Their rescue team has been doing an amazing job responding and treating more than 200 turtles in just a few short months. Once some of their patients were deemed healthy enough for travel, they were transported to animal care institutions along the east coast for additional treatment and release.

Our Associate Veterinarian Kat Hadfield prepares for the ride back to Baltimore with one of our current patients! Photo via NEAQ

Our Associate Veterinarian Kat Hadfield prepares for the ride back to Baltimore with one of our current patients! Photo via NEAQ

All seven of our patients (three Kemp’s ridleys, three green sea turtles and one loggerhead) are being treated for cold-stunning - a hypothermic reaction that occurs when sea turtles are exposed to cold water for a prolonged period of time.

Unfortunately, as water temperatures drop, it impairs a turtles’ ability to swim/dive normally. This puts them at a greater risk of being struck by things in the water, such as boat propellers. That was the case for our loggerhead patient, who also sustained multiple injuries, including one that required amputation of its right front flipper.

These deep cuts in the loggerhead's carapace (shell) were likely done by a boat propeller.

These deep cuts in the loggerhead’s carapace (shell) were likely done by a boat propeller.

We’re happy to report that this turtle is healing well on its own and is eating a lot (it is currently enjoying a well-rounded diet of crab, squid, shrimp and fish)!

Even with his injury, the loggerhead is swimming well and enjoys exploring his temporary home!

Even with his injury, the loggerhead is swimming well and enjoys exploring his temporary home!

Due to his steady improvement and recovery, we hope to be able to release this turtle in the coming weeks. We will be tracking him via satellite to collect additional data to support our past research on how turtles with front flipper amputations survive in the wild.

To learn more about MARP and how you can help support our animal rescue efforts, visit aqua.org/MARP.

Want to get more behind-the-scenes access to what’s happening here at the Aquarium? Subscribe to our YouTube channel for updates on our animals, rescues/releases and the construction of our new exhibit, Blacktip Reef! 

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