Posts Tagged 'kemp’s ridley turtle'

Animal Rescue Update: 13 Turtles Ready for Release This Week!

national aquarium Animal Rescue Update

Our Animal Rescue team is excited to announce that 13 of our current sea turtle patients in rehabilitation are going to be released this week! Animal Rescue and Animal Health staff have been busy the last few weeks clearing patients for releasing, making sure all releasable turtles have their required tags, and making sure we have all the pertinent paperwork and permits for the transport and release.

This Wednesday, several staff from the National Aquarium will pack the turtles for their long road trip south. So, how exactly do you transport a sea turtle? Each turtle is fitted for an appropriate sized transport carrier, which is padded with foam and towels to provide lots of cushion and support.

Each turtle will receive some fluids just under their skin to help keep them hydrated, and they’ll also get a water-based lubricant massaged onto their shell to help retain moisture, and some sterile eye lubricant helps keep their eyes moist. Finally, each turtle will be packed into our temperature-controlled transport vehicle and will be safely secured for the transport.

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Once our vehicle is ready, our staff will make the 800 mile drive to northeast Florida to release the turtles. We’ll have a total of 9 Kemp’s ridley and 4 green sea turtles to release on this trip, and the much warmer waters of Florida are perfect this time of year.

Stay tuned for more updates on their release, as well as updates on our remaining rehab patients!

national aquarium animal rescue expert

Animal Rescue Update: 11 Turtle Patients Ready for Release

national aquarium Animal Rescue Update

Our Animal Health and Animal Rescue staff have been busy continuing to care for the 19 cold-stunned sea turtles currently in rehabilitation. Over the last three months, many of our patients have been treated for critical conditions, including: fungal and bacterial pneumonias, infections in their flipper joints and severe shell lesions.

I’m happy to announce that we currently have 11 turtles that are no longer on medications and are considered stable! We are now working with our partners at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the state of Florida to schedule a release date in the near future!

All the stable turtles have been getting full exams that will act as pre-release screening  exams, which include recheck radiographs, blood work, physical exams, and tagging. All releasable turtles must be tagged in some way – either metal flipper tags, a PIT tag (a microchip like your domestic dog/cat might have), or both. The metal flipper tags are applied to the rear flippers and are the equivalent of getting your ears pierced.

sea turtle tag

These tags will stay with the animals for many years after release, but may eventually fall out as they corrode or as the turtle grows. As a more permanent method of identifying the animal, we implant a small microchip under the skin that will stay with the animal indefinitely. These forms of ID are passive ways researchers can track released turtles and provide insight to migration patterns, foraging areas and past medical history.

Meet some of our patients ready for release! 

Chipper

This green sea turtle stranded in Ocean City, MD as a cold-stun and arrived to the National Aquarium with a dangerously low body temperature of only 37o F. A temperature this low in sea turtles can be fatal, and our staff had to be careful to warm the turtle very slowly over several days. In fact, he was so cold on admittance, that in order to prevent his body temperature from rising too quickly, we actually had to utilize ice to stabilize his temperature.

national aquarium animal rescue turtle

Chipper has amazingly made a full recovery. He was prescribed long-term fluid therapy to combat blood changes due to the cold-stunning, but otherwise has had a clean bill of health.

Goose

Goose is a Kemp’s ridley that was cold-stunned in Cape Cod and transferred to us by the New England Aquarium. Goose is the smallest turtle this season – he was admitted weighing less than 2 lbs, and is now over 3.5 lbs! He was treated for anemia (low iron), a high white blood cell count, and mild pneumonia.

While Goose is the smallest turtle we currently have in rehabilitation, he has a big personality and makes our staff laugh. He’s not ashamed to scavenge small pieces of produce from his green sea turtle neighbors, even though Kemp’s ridley’s don’t typically eat plant-based foods.

Jester

Jester is a Kemp’s ridley that also came to us from New England Aquarium. He was treated for pneumonia, shell lesions, and mild skin lesions.

national aquarium animal rescue

Jester has gained 2 lbs on a diet of squid, shrimp, capelin, and crab while in rehab!

Stay tuned for details on their upcoming release! 

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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