Posts Tagged 'marine animal rescue program'

Our Last Seal Patient is Ready for Release!

Animal Rescue Update

Our remaining grey seal patient, Eyegore, is doing great! Eyegore came to us for long-term rehabilitation about two months ago. He was initially admitted for a respiratory infection, an eye infection of the left eye and alopecia (hair loss).

grey seal

Eyegore’s respiratory and eye infections have cleared and his hair is regrowing in the areas around his neck and abdomen that were affected by the hair loss.

Eyegore coat before and after

Eyegore’s coat has come a long way since his first days in rehab!

While his eye infection has cleared, he has permanent corneal scarring of the left eye that is a result of the previous infection. A consult with a veterinary ophthalmologist revealed that Eyegore is likely blind in his left eye. Despite blindness in his left eye, Eyegore has a strong personality and appetite, which are great traits for a wild seal! He enjoys interacting with enrichment items, and his favorite is an orange sled that we fill with fish and ice.

Eyegore has been cleared for release, which our staff is now in the process of planning. We’ll be sure to keep everyone update as details for his release come together.

Be sure to wish Eyegore well on our Facebook page and follow Jenn on Twitter for real-time updates!

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Animal Rescue Update: Help Us Say Goodbye to Ponyboy!

Animal Rescue Update

Our Animal Rescue and Animal Health teams have been busy performing physical exams on our sea turtle and seal patients that last few weeks. We’re proud to announce that grey seal Ponyboy is ready for release! Ponyboy was admitted for rehabilitation on Sunday, March 31 (Easter) from Ocean City, MD. He required treatment for a severe wound to his left front flipper, and a mild respiratory infection.

grey seal

Ponyboy’s flipper injury was quite severe, though the cause of the wound is unknown. The injury healed well with minor surgery and routine wound treatment. Recent x-rays of the affected area indicate that the bone has healed well with no signs of infection, and Ponyboy is using his flipper normally.

grey seal

Ponyboy was named after the same character from the 1980’s movie The Outsiders, (this year’s naming theme is Bratpack movies)! He will be released just north of the inlet at Ocean City, Maryland on Wednesday, June 12 at 11 am. We’d like to invite our local community to join us on the beach for Ponyboy’s release!

If you can’t join us to person to say goodbye to Ponyboy, wish him well on our Facebook page or on Twitter!

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Thoughtful Thursdays: Collaborative Conservation Efforts In the Name of Sea Turtles!

Animal Rescue Update

Staff with the National Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) recently returned from a several-day road trip adventure named ‘Sea Turtle Trek’ to transport and release 52 endangered sea turtles off the Florida coast. National Aquarium joined staff from the New England Aquarium to transport the precious cargo from both of our facilities and several of our regional stranding partners, including University of New England Marine Animal Rehabilitation Center, National Marine Life Center, Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, Virginia Aquarium, South Carolina Aquarium.

The turtles that were transported for release had stranded during the record-breaking 2012 cold-stun season and were treated at the rehabilitation facilities mentioned above.

The overall transport began around 5 am on Saturday, April 6th in Biddeford, Maine and finally arrived to the release beach just north of Jacksonville, Florida around 9:30 am on Sunday, April 7. During the transport, we stopped several times to meet our partners and pick up additional turtles.

By the last stop to meet the South Carolina Aquarium, the transport staff were challenged to make all of the transport boxes fit safely into the four Chevrolet Suburban’s – it was like a big game of Tetris at 5 am!

By the last stop to meet the South Carolina Aquarium, the transport staff were challenged to make all of the transport boxes fit safely into the four Chevrolet Suburban’s – it was like a big game of Tetris at 5 am!

The turtles rode in a climate controlled environment, and were monitored by biologists from both transporting facilities. Since turtles have all the same bodily functions as every other animal, the staff were relieved to stop for short breaks every few hours and catch some fresh air.

After arriving to the release location, the turtles were unloaded from the vehicles to adjust to the sunlight and warm Florida weather. Staff massaged the turtles’ muscles to combat possible muscle fatigue, and many of the turtles became quite active in their transport crates. Finally, the turtles were lined up on the beach by facility and released in groups.

SeaTurtleTrek release

It’s always interesting to see all the individual personalities of the turtles – some turtles take off for the water as quickly as possible and don’t look back, while others need a little more coaxing.

seaturtletrek team

Turtle releases are always a cause for celebration, and this one was no exception. Staff gathered for lots of photos with the turtles, and several group photos after the releases.

Staff then celebrated with a much needed lunch on the water near the release location, where there were lots of smiles and sharing of photos from the release. By 4pm we were back on the road again and headed north to our overnight location of Jekyll Island, GA. Our friends at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center were gracious enough to let us use their facility to accomplish our final task of the day –cleaning transport crates. The team came together to wash, disinfect, and dry 52 transport crates in just under 40 minutes. By the time the vehicles were packed up with clean crates, we were ready for showers, some dinner, and lots of sleep!

52 clean transport crates_PC NEAq

Photo via New England Aquarium

After breakfast the following morning, we took a short walk on Driftwood Beach at Jekyll Island – the beach there is amazing, and a photographers dream. After the walk, we returned to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center to meet with our colleagues, tour the facility, and listen to a lecture from Dr. Terry Norton. After visiting the gift shop and saying good-bye to the wonderful staff at Georgia Sea Turtle Center, it was time to travel north once again and head home.

Driftwood Beach

This collaborative transport and release event is a true testament as to how stranding and conservation organizations work together to accomplish a common goal. We collectively responded to a record cold-stun season by bringing staff, resources, and facilities together to save as many endangered sea turtles as possible. The staff commitment from all these facilities is never in question – whether it’s providing animal care on holidays, responding to stranding events at moment’s notice, or traveling the entire East coast to transport and release turtles – we’re in it together!

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#SeaTurtleTrek Update – Now With Even More Turtles!

It was a busy night for our #SeaTurtleTrek-kers!

After leaving Baltimore last night, the caravan had two more stops to make before finally heading onto Florida for the big release!

The first stop at Virginia Aquarium happened around midnight. Staff from Virginia Aquarium were on hand to transfer even more precious cargo into the cars.

Late night pick-up at Virginia Aquarium. Photo via Jenn Dittmar

Late night pick-up at Virginia Aquarium. Photo via Jenn Dittmar

After the turtles were loaded up in Virginia, the team continued on (driving through the night) until they reached South Carolina Aquarium early this morning to gather the remaining turtles ready for release!

The caravan continued on straight through South Carolina and Georgia! They’re now pretty close to the release site in Jacksonville, Florida. Upon arrival in Florida, they will be doing health samples on each of the turtles and then it will FINALLY be time for release!

Stay tuned for more updates from this morning’s release! 

Follow 50 Rescue Turtles on their #SeaTurtleTrek to Florida!

#seaturtletrek

This Saturday, our Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) team will join New England Aquarium, Virginia Aquarium, University of New England, National Marine Life Center and the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation in releasing close to 50 rescue turtles off the coast of Florida.

During this historic season of cold-stun cases in the Northeast, all of our organizations have been working diligently to rehabilitate more than 100 of these endangered animals. We’re happy to report that our collective efforts have resulted in the upcoming release of approximately half of our current sea turtle patients!

Because the water temperature in our area is still far too cold for these turtles, our MARP team and staff from New England Aquarium will be making the joint trek down the coast to a warmed location in northern Florida to make the release!

We’re inviting YOU to follow the Sea Turtle Trek as our team makes this 1,200 mile journey along the East Coast! We’ll be providing updates here on our blog and on Twitter (to follow Twitter updates from both of our teams, use the hastag #seaturtletrek)!

Meet our turtles!
We have three sea turtles here at National Aquarium that will be released this weekend – Chet, Biff and Two-Bit! The theme this year for naming our patients was the “Brat Pack,” so staff gathered names from some of their favorite 80′s movies that best fit the personalities of our patients.

Stay tuned for more #SeaTurtleTrek updates! 


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