Posts Tagged 'loggerhead turtle'



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! 

Animal Update – December 7

Between our Baltimore and Washington, DC, venues, more than 17,500 animals representing 900 species call the National Aquarium home. There are constant changes, additions, and more going on behind the scenes that our guests may not notice during their visit. We want to share these fun updates with our community so we’re bringing them to you in our weekly Animal Update posts!

Check our blog every Friday to find out what’s going on… here’s what’s new this week!

AnimalUpdated_DC

Loggerhead moves!

As we mentioned in yesterday’s Thoughtful Thursday post, our National Aquarium, Washington DC venue hosts and cares for sea turtle hatchlings so they can safely grow as part of the Loggerhead Head Start Program. This week was a very special week in DC because it was turtle moving week!

Sylvia and Earle, the turtles we’ve had for the past year, traveled to North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores on Monday and will be released to the warmer waters soon!

loggerhead turtles

Sylvia and Earle tucked comfortably for their trip to North Carolina!

Although we were sad we had to say farewell to Sylvia and Earle, the team is extremely excited to welcome our new turtle hatchling! The new hatchling arrived on Wednesday and is looking very healthy.

loggerhead hatchling

Our new loggerhead hatchling!

As with all of our animals, the young turtle will be in our backup area for at least two weeks for close monitoring before joining its new friends in our exhibit.

loggerhead hatchling

Want to name the adorable new hatchling? Don’t forget – You could win the chance to name and meet the new baby in our Amazing Experiences Sweepstakes

Be sure to check back every Friday to find out what’s happening!

MARP Caring for Rescued Loggerhead Sea Turtle Hatchling and Nest

Our Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) is currently caring for a rescued loggerhead sea turtle nest of 160 eggs and one live hatchling found on the north end of Assateague Island National Seashore.

baby loggerhead turtle

Baby loggerhead turtle hatchling and egg

The nest, which had been incubating in the sand since the end of July, was excavated by MARP and staff from the National Park Service and Maryland Department of Natural Resources late last month before the arrival of high winds and waves from Hurricane Sandy.

turtle eggs

Rescue staff examining eggs during the excavation

The area off Maryland’s eastern shore never has had a confirmed viable sea turtle nest until now. Our MARP team is working closely with various representatives from North Carolina that are experienced with sea turtle nest incubation and hatchlings, including North Carolina State Wildlife Resources Commission, North Carolina Aquarium, and NC State University, to determine the needs of the nest.

turtle eggs

Turtle eggs being documented

The live turtle hatchling is swimming strongly and enjoying supervised deep dives to build endurance. The baby has become stronger and stronger every day and recently reached a milestone by enjoying its first overnight swim. The MARP team is closely monitoring its health while providing antibiotics as a precaution.

baby turtle

The baby turtle is enjoying supervised swims to build up its strength!

loggerhead turtle hatchling

Loggerhead turtle hatchling

The turtle nest was found in sand that was approximately 66 degrees; low temperatures lessen the success rate of turtle nests. Following the arrival of the nest, our team has raised the temperature of the nest to 80 degrees. The eggs require time, moisture and heat, which the MARP team is providing at our off-site Animal Care Center. So far, there is no activity from the nest itself but we are monitoring it closely. According to North Carolina State Wildlife Resources Commission, the hatch success of loggerhead sea turtle nests in North Carolina is about 75%. Unfortunately, nests laid at higher latitudes have a decreased chance of hatch success, which is due to lower temperatures and increased incubation time.

turtle nest

The area where this turtle nest was found is much colder than the typical turtle nest.

The average incubation time for a loggerhead nest in warmer climates is 70 days. Due to the colder temperatures, nests in the Maryland area require more time, not hatching for more than 100 days. Last year, a nest was found in Delaware that did not hatch until day 109. Information from these nests is being collected and evaluated by the National Aquarium, Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the National Park Service, to aid in drafting sea turtle nesting guidelines for Maryland.

turtle rescue

The Marine Animal Rescue Program team continues to care for the young hatchling at our off-site Animal Care Center

National Aquarium team members hope to rehabilitate the young turtle hatchling to a point where it is strong enough to be released. They plan to release it into warmer waters in conjunction with North Carolina State Wildlife Resources Commission and North Carolina Aquarium.

Stay tuned to hear more about this rescue here on our WATERblog!

Released loggerhead turtle travels on!

The Maryland Coast Dispatch, a local paper in Ocean City, Maryland, has reported that three deceased loggerhead turtles were found on the beaches of Ocean City last weekend. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recovered the turtles and biologists are currently  investigating each turtle for cause of death. We want to assure our followers that Flight and Release, the loggerhead turtle released by the National Aquarium at Assateague State Park in September, is not one of these turtles.Turtle in Water for blog

Flight and Release is being tracked through a satelite tag that was affixed to its shell prior to release. We are happy to report that the turtle has traveled over 130 miles since being released from the beach at Assateague. As of October 1st, the turtle was swimming off the coast of Virginia near the mouth of the Chesapeake.  You can track the turtle’s journey here

Marine animals strandings and recoveries are not uncommon along the coastal areas of Maryland. If the animal is alive, the National Aquarium responds to examine see if rescue and rehabilitation is needed.  The DNR responds when dead marine animals wash ashore and conduct research to determine a cause of death. The DNR maintains a 24-hour hotline that connects to Maryland Natural Resource Police (NRP) for private citizens who find sick, injured or deceased marine mammals on the beach. The number to call is 1-800-628-9944.

Click here to see more pictures of Flight and Release!

Rehabilitated turtle prepares for release

In July, a loggerhead sea turtle came to the Aquarium through our Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP), which takes in stranded marine animals with the goal of treating them back to health and releasing them back into their natural habitats.

 Upon arrival the turtle was thin and her shell was covered with barnacles, mussels, and a thick growth of algae. To assess the turtle’s health, the Aquarium’s veterinary staff needed to evaluate the condition of her shell and check for any internal disease.

For this very special case, the vets called on the help of outside healthcare professionals. The radiology staff at John’s Hopkins Hospital stepped in to help. They volunteered their time and gave the Aquarium staff after hours access to their equipment, so the vets could get a good look at the turtles internal functions. Check out the video:

Continue reading ‘Rehabilitated turtle prepares for release’


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