Posts Tagged 'sea turtle conservation'



Animal Rescue Update: Loggerhead Patient, Niagra, Has Been Released!

national aquarium Animal Rescue Update

Niagara, a rescued Loggerhead sea turtle, was admitted for rehabilitation to the National Aquarium from the Virginia Aquarium, after accidentally being hooked by a fisherman.

loggerhead sea turtle

Niagara was lucky to suffer only minor injuries from the hook, however he also suffered from an old boat strike injury that caused a shell fracture. While in rehabilitation at National Aquarium, Animal Health staff assessed the condition of the old fracture and provided some basic wound care to allow the fractured area to heal and stabilize on its own.

After only six weeks in rehab, Niagara was successfully released today from Assateague State Park, where a small crowd gathered to bid him farewell.

Stay tuned for updates on the other two loggerheads we currently have in rehabilitation!

jenn dittmar national aquarium animal rescue

Animal Rescue Update: Two Hooks Successfully Released From Loggerhead Patient!

Animal Rescue Update

Our team recently admitted two loggerheads from Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center. One of the turtles, named Portsmouth, had ingested a recreational fishing hook and had to undergo surgery to remove the hook from his esophagus. We successfully removed the primary hook, but was surprised to find a second hook near the same location. The second hook was older, and more deteriorated, so they could only safely remove a portion of the hook that was visible.

loggerhead sea turtle

Animal Health staff at the National Aquarium performed a full physical exam on Portsmouth when he was transferred to our care, including radiographs (x-rays) to assess the location of the remaining hook. While radiographs are extremely helpful as a diagnostic tool, they can only provide a one-dimensional view. Our veterinary staff determined that a Computed Tomography (CT) scan would be a very helpful diagnostic for Portsmouth’s condition. A CT scan is a medical imaging procedure that essentially x-rays a body (or area of a body) around a central axis and produces a large volume of x-ray image ‘slices’ of the body – similar to slicing a loaf of bread. With the help of computer software, the image ‘slices’ can be compiled and manipulated into 3-dimensional images of structures.

Performing a CT scan on a large sea turtle like Portsmouth can be challenging, but the process is very quick (only a few seconds) and is not invasive. In fact, the most challenging part of the process was convincing Portsmouth to leave his watery world for the short trip. Portsmouth was cooperative during the approximately 30-second imaging process, and our veterinarians were able to consult with the radiologists on site about the possibilities of the hooks positioning.

On August 28, 2013, our veterinarians teamed up with Dr. Adam Gonzales, DVM from the Atlantic Veterinary Internal Medicine & Oncology for an endoscopy procedure in hopes of extracting the remainder of the second hook as seen on the x-rays and CT scans. While Portsmouth did have to be sedated for this procedure, the hook itself was fairly easy to remove as it was simply lying among the papillae. Papillae are keratinized projections within the throat which point inward towards the stomach. They are presumed to trap food while excess water is expelled prior to swallowing.

In just a few hours, Portsmouth was back to swimming in his pool, and had worked up quite the appetite – blue crabs, watch out!

Blog-Header-JennDittmar

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!

Blog-Header-JennDittmar

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.

Blog-Header-JennDittmar

Diane Rehm’s Environmental Outlook: Jellyfish And The Health Of The Ocean

Blog-Header-AnimalExpertUpd

Earlier today, I spoke to NPR’s Diane Rehm about jellies and the impact that jellyfish population increases and expansion of some species’ geographic ranges are having on the health of our oceans.

Jack Cover at Diane Rehm show

With Bill Dennison and Diane Rehm at NPR.

Jellyfish first appeared around 560 million years ago (long before the time of dinosaurs). They’re 95 percent water, have no brains and no bones and no heart or blood, yet these gelatinous animals are among the worlds’ most resilient organisms.

The jellies simple body plan has remained relatively unchanged. But lately some scientists are concerned the animals are thriving too well – overrunning marine ecosystems, forcing nuclear power plants to shut down and filling the nets of commercial fisherman and shutting down fisheries around the world.

Some of the jellyfish species on exhibit here at the Aquarium.

Jellyfish species from top left (clockwise): blue blubber jelly, upside down jelly, spotted lagoon jelly, Leidy’s comb jelly

There are both ecological human-related issues causing an “explosion” of jellyfish populations around the world.

  • Over the years, climate change has raised the average temperature of the ocean. While this rise has negatively impacted organisms like coral, warm season jellies start breeding earlier and have longer active seasons.
  • Human activities, such as the over-fertilization of our lawns and farms, results in a runoff of excesses of nutrients into the Chesapeake Bay and ocean. This results in what’s known as an algal bloom. When the algae absorbs all of this nutrient run-off, it dies. Bacteria then feeds on the dead algae and removes all dissolved oxygen from the water – this process is called eutrophication and produces “dead zones.” Fish and crabs perish in these dead zones, but not the resilient jelly. Jellyfish can survive with low oxygen levels!
  • Jellyfish are opportunistic feeders. When food, like zooplankton, is abundant, they will grow rapidly and reproduce at a rapid rate. Excessively large jellyfish populations can out compete young fishes that also feed on zooplankton.
  • Some scientists speculate that the reproduction of jellyfish predators may also be giving jelly populations a boost. For example, all seven species of sea turtle will opportunistically feed on jellyfish when they are encountered. The largest species of sea turtle, the leatherback, feeds almost exclusively on jellies. Pacific populations of leatherbacks are currently at about 7 percent of their historic population levels. Human activities are the cause of sea turtle population declines. Overfishing has reduced fish populations that also feed on jellies.

To listen the full “Environmental Outlook” segment on Diane Rehm’s show, click here

Jack Cover


Sign up for AquaMail

Twitter Updates


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 239 other followers