Archive for the 'Turtles' Category



Terrapin Hatchlings Are Ready for School!

It’s that time of the year again! Students from across the country are packing-up their backpacks and getting ready to go back to school. At the Aquarium, forty-five hatchling turtles are also getting ready for their first day at school.

terrapin hatchling

Through the Terrapins in the Classroom Program, hatchling diamondback terrapins are collected from Poplar Island in late summer and then placed in partner schools around the state. Students and teachers are charged with caring for the little turtle all school year. They collect growth data, observe behaviors, learn animal care techniques and research the natural history of the species. In late spring, the students release the terrapins back onto Poplar Island.

The hatchlings are quarter-sized right now, but throughout the year they will more than quadruple in size. Scientists are studying the impact of this ‘headstart’ on adult terrapin populations around Poplar Island.

The Terrapins in the Classroom Program provides a unique, hands-on opportunity for students to form a meaningful connection with an animal that lives in the Chesapeake Bay. As students wave goodbye to the terrapins, they begin to understand how they are connected to all aquatic animals and how their actions can impact the Chesapeake Bay.

This school year hundreds of students will do their part by helping to care for a terrapin in their classroom. You can do your part by planting a wetland, helping clean-up waterways, and practicing terrapin-safe crabbing!

Animal Rescue Update: Two Loggerheads Admitted for Hook Injuries

Animal Rescue Update

Two loggerhead turtles were recently admitted into the care of the National Aquarium Animal Rescue after having been hooked by fishing gear.

Portsmouth and Niagra arrived from the Virginia Aquarium yesterday afternoon, and were met with full medical exams and a new pool. Both turtles were brought to the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Center because they had been hooked by fishing gear on a local pier. The fisherman did the best thing for the turtles by calling their local rescue team, who gladly took in the turtles and stabilized them before calling us for a transfer. After quite a ride up to the National Aquarium, Portsmouth and Niagra were ready to go back into the water. They have started a round of antibiotics, which is routine, and will have radiographs taken later this week to check those areas where they were hooked.

Hook injuries like these are not uncommon . Season after season, you will hear marine animal rescue facilities along the coastlines talking about safe viewing of marine animals and helping stranded or injured marine animals in their local areas. As protected species, there are federal laws that protect these animals from human activities such as harassment, poaching, hunting, killing, feeding, and touching within our waterways; however, reporting suspicious incidents, entanglement cases, and sightings or strandings of these animals is not a crime against them…it is actually helping them!

With summer in full swing, and boaters constantly out on the waters, we would like to take this time to talk about sea turtle safety and how YOU can help save them! First, we understand that it is not always easy to spot sea turtles in the open water, as they will only surface for a breath of air. This means that a hint of their carapace (shell) and their head will appear out of the water for a few seconds. Sea turtles are not basking turtles, so you will not find them lounging on rocks or beaches to rest. Spring and summer are often the months where we see an increase in boat strike injuries because of these subtle sightings. Another increase that we see is hook ingestion and entanglement cases that involve fishing gear and marine debris. There are ways to help save these animals, most of which are simple and thoughtful for all marine life!

If you capture a sea turtle while fishing in local waters, immediately contact the appropriate response team and await further instruction. Locally, these teams can be reached at:

Maryland, National Aquarium: 410-373-0083
Delaware, MERR Institute: 302-228-5029
Virginia, Virginia Aquarium: 757-385-7575
NOAA Fisheries Hotline: 1-866-755-6622

While you wait for the response team to arrive, here are a few things to remember:

  • Keep your hands away from the turtle’s mouth and flippers.
  • Use a net or the shell to lift the animal onto land/pier, or into a boat. Do NOT lift the animal via hook or pull on the line. If the turtle is too large, try to guide it to the beach.
  • When you have control of the animal, use blunt scissors/knife to cut the line, leaving at least 2 feet of line.
  • Leave the hook in place, as removing it could cause further damage. NEVER take the hook out on your own and release the animal. The response team wants to make sure that the turtle is safe before releasing it back into the wild.
  • Keep the turtle out of direct sunlight, and cover the shell with a damp towel.

The response team will communicate with you to retrieve the animal for treatment and an exam. We take every precaution to make sure that these animals go back into their natural environment with the best chance possible at survival, and we would like you to join us in this effort by simply educating yourself on the laws for their protection, visiting our website for further insight, and using safe boating practices!

Stay tuned for updates on Portsmouth and Niagra’s stay with the Animal Rescue team!

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Photo Re-cap: 100th Animal Rescue Release!

Yesterday was an exciting day for our Animal Rescue team! Together with folks from the the National Marine Life Center, they made their way down to Point Lookout State Park in Scotland, Maryland to release seven sea turtles back into the wild!

While any release is a cause for celebration, yesterday’s event was extra special to our team because it marked their 100th animal released!

national aquarium animal rescue 100th release

Number 100, a green sea turtle named Willard, making his way to the water.

In the last twenty years, our team has cared, rescued, treated and released a variety of species to their natural habitats, including: seals; sea turtles; rough-toothed dolphins; a harbor porpoise; a pygmy sperm whale; and a manatee. Each of these animals has an incredible story, and there is no better triumph than returning a healthy animal to the wild! You can read some of these stories on our website.

Here’s a gallery of photos from yesterday’s release: 

Sea turtles utilize the Chesapeake Bay as a source of food during the summer months. The two Kemp’s ridley’s and the green sea turtle that were released yesterday will likely remain within the Bay for the rest of the summer before migrating south in the fall!

Wish these turtles well in our comments section or on our Facebook page

We’re Ready to Release Our 100th Animal!

Animal Rescue Update

The 2012 cold-stun season for sea turtles in New England broke records. National Aquarium’s Animal Rescue team helped out our colleagues at the New England Aquarium by admitting 13 sea turtles for rehabilitation last December. We transported several turtles to Florida for long-term rehab and release in January, and several more for release to Florida in April.

We currently have four remaining turtles in our rehab center: two Kemp’s Ridleys (Duckie and Bender), a green (Willard), and a loggerhead (Rooney). We are very excited to announce that three of the four turtles are ready for release!

Any release is a cause for celebration, but this release is extra special, as we’ll be celebrating the release of our 100th animal! Actually, Duckie, Bender and Willard will represent our 100, 101 and 102 animals released! Since 1991, National Aquarium Animal Rescue has been responding to stranded marine mammals and sea turtles found along the Delmarva Peninsula (which encompasses Delaware, Maryland and Virginia).

In the last twenty years, our team has cared, rescued, treated and released a variety of species to their natural habitats, including: seals; sea turtles; rough-toothed dolphins; a harbor porpoise; a pygmy sperm whale; and a manatee. Each of these animals has an incredible story, and there is no better triumph than returning a healthy animal to the wild! You can read some of these stories on our website.

We’re excited to announce that our 100th release will be open to the public. Find out more details below:

National Aquarium 100th Rescue Animal Release

When: 
Saturday, June 22
4:00 pm EST

Where:
Point Lookout State Park in Scotland, MD
The release will occur at the Swimming Beach
Normal park entrance fees will apply

What: 
Join our National Aquarium Animal Rescue team as we release three turtles: two Kemp’s Ridley’s (Duckie and Bender) and a green (Willard).

Staff from the National Marine Life Center will also be on-site to release four rehabilitated sea turtles!

Sea turtles utilize the Chesapeake Bay as a source of food during the summer months. The two Kemp’s ridley’s and the green sea turtle that we will release this Saturday will likely remain within the Bay for the rest of the summer before migrating south in the fall. The loggerhead will remain in rehabilitation for long-term treatment of a chronic medical issue and will be released at a later date.

We hope you can join us to say farewell to Duckie, Bender, and Willard!

If you’re not able to join us on the beach, be sure to follow me on Twitter  for live updates, and leave your well-wishes for the trio in the comments below.

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How the Global Pet Trade is Impacting the Survival of Many Exotic Species

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When it comes to pets, most people are content keeping traditional cats and dogs while others desire animals with a more exotic flair. Pet stores and online vendors offer the potential exotic pet owner an abundance of wildlife, ranging from parrots and marmosets to cobras and scorpions. Sadly, many recipients of exotic wildlife are unaware that their purchases may support a trade that is often illegal, inhumane, or detrimental to wild populations.

It may come as a surprise to many that the United States is one of the largest importers of live animals in the world with over one billion live animals imported since the year 2000. Various regulatory agencies strive to control this trade. The US Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for enforcing not only its own internal regulations but also those regulations that fall under the auspices of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

In addition, the U.S. Public Health Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture enforce various aspects of live animal importations that seek to prevent the introduction and spread of emerging diseases that affect the health of both humans and domestic livestock. Imports of pet Bell’s Hingeback Tortoise’s were banned when tortoise borne ticks were found to contain Heartwater Disease, a serious threat for wild and domestic ruminants.

In 2003 African Monkey Pox was introduced when shipments of Gambian Pouched Rats, destined for the pet trade, were imported into this country. The scale of the global wildlife trade, both legal and illegal is staggering. It has been estimated that the illegal wildlife trade ranks just behind the trade in illegal arms and narcotics in terms of scope and finances. Earlier this year, 54 critically endangered Madagascar Plowshare tortoises were confiscated by authorities in Thailand. Destined for the high-end illegal pet trade, an adult tortoise of this species might sell for $50,000 – this one shipment represented approximately 10 percent of the world’s remaining population of plowshare tortoises.

plowshare tortoise

A plowshare tortoise.

For those who still wish to maintain non-traditional pets, know that these non-traditional pets require a substantial commitment. The desire to own an exotic pet often clouds ones judgment. Rescue groups are overflowing with unwanted parrots and other exotic animals, relinquished because former owners underestimated the time, money, and commitment it requires to adequately maintain these animals within their homes. In many cases exotic pet owners, ignorant of state or local laws that prohibit the keeping of certain species, have had their animals seized by law enforcement or been forced to surrender them. Responsible and successful maintenance of an exotic pet requires careful sourcing along with substantial research, finances, time commitment, and an honest discussion as to one’s ability to meet the requirements, both physical and psychological, of the species in question.

Blog-Header-KenHowell


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