Posts Tagged 'rescued turtles'

MARP Update – Caring for 2 Rescued Sea Turtles

The National Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) team has two new patients in the Animal Care Center (ACC). The sea turtles, named London and Olympian, were originally found floating off the coast of New Jersey, and were rescued by our stranding partner,  New Jersey Marine Mammal Stranding Center (NJMMSC).

London, a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, stranded on July 25 outside of a power plant, suffering from wounds associated with an impingement ( much like tendinitis). Our team is treating London for a bruised shell and possible pneumonia. London has been eagerly munching on shrimp and squid, and has become more active over the last two weeks.

London was injured at a power plant in New Jersey and is now being rehabilitated by our staff. Photo courtesy of Pat Venturino

Olympian, a green sea turtle, was spotted floating off the New Jersey coast on August 13. After being brought in, NJMMSC realized that Olympian was suffering from a severe case of edema, an abnormal accumulation of fluid beneath the skin that causes swelling. The edema initially decreased during the first 24 hours in rehabilitation, but Olympian continues to have a buoyancy problem. Our staff is working hard to diagnose the reason behind the buoyancy problem, but Olympian seems to be slowly responding to treatment. Olympian is eating more every day and is enjoying a diet of shrimp, squid, romaine lettuce, green peppers, and Brussels sprouts!

Olympian is eating well and loves to munch on greens like lettuce. Photo courtesy of Pat Venturino

Both London and Olympian are being closely monitored at the Aquarium’s off-site Animal Care Center (ACC). The ACC is an off-site facility where animals clearing quarantine are held before entering an exhibit, and where wild animals in need of rehabilitation stay. Earlier this summer, MARP and Aquarium staff worked together to get our new sea turtle rehabilitation center up and running. Several precautions were adjusted or added during the recent renovation so that all animals remain safe and healthy during their stay at our facility.

Please remember, if you are out on the water, keep your eye out for marine wildlife in our area. It is around this time that we see different animals migrating through our local waters, as Maryland waters are a thoroughfare for several ocean species. Animals that the MARP team usually sees in this region include sea turtles, whales, dolphins and seals. While sea turtles will generally stay in the water, they do surface for breaths of air, so be careful if out on a boat. Boat strikes are, unfortunately, a common cause of marine animal injury. Click here to find out more ways you can help protect marine animals!

Stay tuned for more updates about London and Olympian as they continue to rehabilitate with our MARP team! 

Rescued turtles undergo first medical exams

From Jenn Dittmar, MARP Stranding Coordinator

The five Kemp’s ridley sea turtles that were transferred from the New England Aquarium on December 2 are continuing to settle into our sea turtle rehabilitation program. Transporting the turtles safely is just the first step in our process, and the true rehabilitation work is just now beginning.

Shortly after animals are admitted to MARP, they are given a thorough medical examination that we call admittance exams. All five turtles underwent their exams with our animal health staff the day after their arrival.

Our animal health team works tirelessly to make sure all of our collection and rehabilitation animals stay healthy. That is no easy task, considering they oversee the health of more than 16,000 animals living at the National Aquarium!

A variety of things take place during an animal’s admittance exam. Below you’ll see Cara, one of our veterinary technicians, taking a blood sample from turtle #19 for analysis. Once analyzed, blood samples can tell us a great deal about the overall health of an animal.

During each exam, staff also take radiographs (commonly referred to as “x-rays”), weigh each animal, take a core body temperature, and assess the overall physical condition of the turtle. All of this information, along with the information that was sent with the turtles from New England Aquarium, has created a baseline for monitoring each animal’s health while in rehabilitation.

All five turtles did well during their exams. With a better understanding of their current health status, we can now begin the long-term rehabilitation process. Results showed that many of the turtles are underweight and experiencing pneumonia. Some of them also have abrasions and cuts from being tossed up on the beach when they were cold-stunned.

In the photo below, you can see that turtle #18 has red circular spots on his jaw. These are abrasions that he sustained during stranding. The abrasions are healing well, but we will keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t become infected.

Cold-stun turtles commonly have to undergo a lengthy rehabilitation because their immune system is suppressed during the cold-stunning process. This often makes the animals more susceptible to secondary infections.

And even though these turtles are sick, they are still wild animals with great power in their flippers. How else would they be able to travel as far as they do? During exams we have to make sure to hold the flippers properly for the safety of the turtle and our staff, as Cara demonstrates here:

 

 

 

 

 

It’s hard work, but having the chance to help these endangered turtles is very rewarding. I especially love working with turtles because they are just so cute! Below is turtle #20. The lighter yellowish-orange spot just under his nostrils is a scab covering an area of abrasion. We’ll continue to monitor it, but it appears to be healing well on its own.

Caring for these animals is very expensive. Food, medicine, and equipment can cost up to $200 a day for each turtle. As a nonprofit, our program depends on the support of grants and private funding. If you are a supporter of MARP, think about a donation this holiday season!

Stay tuned for more updates from our team!

Rescued sea turtle flies south

Earlier today, a patient of the National Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue Program received a very special plane ride turtletransport3-smallto Florida aboard the private plane of  Aquarium board members, Mary and Harold Graul. The green sea turtle was flown to the Marine Science Center, bidding the cold temperatures of the Northeast goodbye.

The sea turtle came to the Aquarium in the fall after being rescued off the Maryland coast where it was found cold stunned.  After a few months of rehabilitation by the Aquarium’s vets and MARP team, the animal was approved to be released back into its natural habitat. Unfortunately, the waters at this time of year are too cold for the turtle, so its return to sea had to be postponed. To make room for new patients to the National Aquarium, the Marine Science Center agreed to keep the turtle until the water reaches warmer temperatures.

In a few months the Aquarium’s MARP team will travel down to Florida with a satellite tracking tag and release the turtle back into the ocean. Click here to see how other animals have been tracked over the years!


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