Posts Tagged 'animal rescue'

Turtle Tuesday: She’s Baaaaaacck!

Today marked another important milestone for our Aquarium family as we introduced the first animal, our 500+ pound green sea turtle Calypso, into our Blacktip Reef exhibit!

Calypso's introduction to Blacktip Reef

After a “mini-vacation” behind-the-scenes while our central exhibit space was being transformed into a vibrant Indo-Pacific reef, Calypso was excited to explore her new home.

 A little bit about Calypso

After stranding off the shore of Long Island, New York, in 2000, a juvenile green sea turtle (only weighing about 6 pounds at the time) was transported to our Animal Care Center for rehabilitation in 2002. At the time of her rescue, Calypso’s left-front flipper had a severe infection, which required amputation. Because of her amputation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) deemed Calypso “non-releasable.” She’s been a beloved member of our Aquarium family ever since!

We’re excited for Calypso to continue to explore her new digs and meet the neighbors, as we introduce hundreds of animals into Blacktip Reef over the next month!

Stay tuned for more updates as our newest exhibit continues to come to life!

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!


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

Saturday, June 22
4:00 pm EST

Point Lookout State Park in Scotland, MD
The release will occur at the Swimming Beach
Normal park entrance fees will apply

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.


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!


Animal Rescue Update: Responding to Marine Mammal Strandings

Animal Rescue Update

The National Aquarium Animal Rescue team responds to marine mammal and sea turtle strandings along the 4,320 miles of coastline in Maryland. We are permitted for stranding response through the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). All species of marine mammals are federally protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and include all marine mammal species: dolphins, whales, seals, manatees, polar bears, sea lions, etc. Some marine mammals are fully aquatic, meaning they spend all of their time in the water – like dolphins, whales, and manatees. While other marine mammals are semi-aquatic, meaning they spend part of their time in the water, and part on land. Examples of semi-aquatic marine mammals include seals, polar bears, and sea lions.

Our team recently received a report of a live stranded pilot whale at Assateague Island National Seashore on Saturday, June 1. The animal had reportedly initially stranded earlier in the day and was pushed back into the water by a well-meaning member of the public. By the time the animal restranded the second time, it was lethargic and eventually refloated due to the rising tide. When a dolphin or whale strands, it expends a lot of energy in the process, and they often strand due to an underlying injury or illness.
The stranded pilot whale that appeared last week.

The stranded pilot whale that appeared on the shore of Assateague Island last week.

While it is often tempting to want to help stranded dolphins and whales by pushing them back into the water, this will only result in prolonging the suffering of the animal, as it is highly likely the animal will restrand in another location where first responders are not prepared. Dolphins and whales also carry parasites and diseases that could pose a hazard to humans. In light of this recent stranding, I’d like to share some advice on what you should do when/if you encounter a wild animal on the beach: 

If you encounter a semi-aquatic marine mammal resting on land, such as a seal, count yourself lucky! Sightings of these animals are rare in our area. Appreciate the animal from a safe distance (about 4-5 car lengths), take plenty of pictures or video, and remember that these are wild animals. Wild animals have natural instincts to protect themselves, and when a wild animal feels threatened it can bite. If a wild seal were to bite a human, there would be an unfortunate outcome for the seal due to risk of disease transmission to the human involved. If you suspect a semi-aquatic marine mammal is sick, injured, or in need of medical care, call the local authorities (animal control, coast guard, natural resources police, etc) or NMFS’s Stranding Hotline at 1-866-755-NOAA. Wait for a trained responder to arrive.

If you encounter a fully aquatic marine mammal on the beach, such as a dolphin or whale, document the event with photos or video from a safe distance (remember, they are wild animals), then call the local authorities or the NMFS Stranding Hotline immediately. Trained and authorized responders will be dispatched to assess the animal, collect valuable information, and determine the appropriate care. While it may be tempting to push stranded whales and dolphins back into the water, this is not recommended, as it may cause further injury or stress to the animal. You may be asked to remain on site to monitor the animal until the local responders arrive.

Marine mammal strandings have occurred throughout history, and can take place due to natural or human-related reasons. Marine mammal populations are generally difficult to study due to their extensive range in the open ocean, but strandings give us an opportunity to learn about the health of individual animals, species populations, and the overall health of the ocean – our ‘One Ocean.’

In continued celebration of World Oceans Day, what will YOU do to support the health of our One Ocean?


Animal Rescue Update: Goodbye Sodapop, Hello Eyegore!

Animal Rescue Update

The 2012-2013 seal season has been a busy one for our Animal Rescue team!

Last Thursday, we successfully released Sodapop, a male harbor seal that was treated for a severe respiratory infection. An animal release is always a cause for celebration for our department – we spend countless hours caring for animals in rehabilitation, and to be rewarded by seeing an animal return to its natural environment is a joyous event. Despite the rainy weather, we had a large group join us on the beach at Assateague State Park to say farewell to Sodapop!

harbor seal on the beach

At his release, we can only assume Sodapop had the following thought: So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish!

After Sodapop was released, our team had just one seal in rehabilitation – Ponyboy, a male grey seal being treated for a wound to the left front flipper. Ponyboy has been doing great – his wound is healing well, and the veterinarians recently discontinued his antibiotics. He has been enjoying enrichment several times a day, but his favorite enrichment is fishcicles! Fishcicles are jumbo frozen treats with lots of yummy fish, and they are a refreshing way for the seals to enjoy their food. Fishcicles encourage natural foraging behaviors, and stimulate their minds and tactile senses – they are usually a big hit! If Ponyboy continues to improve, we hope to be able to release him in the near future!

grey seal

Ponyboy was not alone at our Seal Rehabilitation Facility for long. The day after Sodapop’s release, we admitted a juvenile grey seal from the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team, named Eyegore the Maniac. Eyegore was initially admitted for rehabilitation on April 18th for a respiratory infection and severe infection of the left eye. After being stabilized at the Virginia Aquarium for about a month, he was transferred to the National Aquarium for long-term rehabilitation.

grey seal eyegore

Eyegore has a feisty demeanor, which is a good trait for a wild seal. His respiratory and eye infection have responded well to antibiotics, though he does have permanent scarring of the left cornea that affects his vision. Eyegore’s health is improving, despite his permanent visual impairment, and he actively enjoys lounging in his rehabilitation pool and interacting with enrichment..

Stay tuned for updates on the progress of these animals, including release details!


Our Rescued Harbor Seal is Ready for Release!

We have some great news from our Animal Rescue team! Sodapop, a male harbor seal (named after a famous 80s movie) that has been in rehab since February 15, is ready for release!

Sodapop after a couple of weeks in our Animal Care Center

Sodapop after a couple of weeks in our Animal Care Center

Upon admittance to rehab, Sodapop was emaciated, had a severe respiratory infection, and suffered cuts and scrapes to his face and hips. Sodapop was underweight at only 38 pounds when admitted, but now weighs a healthy 53 pounds.

While in rehab, Sodapop eagerly ate nearly 8 pounds of fish per day! He was on oral antibiotics twice a day to treat the respiratory infection, so staff had to hide the medication in the fish. Luckily, seals swallow their food whole, so it’s easy and stress free to get them their prescribed medications.

As you can see, Sodapop has filled out a bit in recent weeks!

As you can see, Sodapop has filled out a bit since his admittance to our facility!

We are busy planning the details for his release at this time. Want to get real-time, behind-the-scenes updates on Sodapop’s release? Follow our Stranding Coordinator @JennDittmar on Twitter!

Sodapop’s release is scheduled for this Thursday at Assateague State Park. If you’re in the area, join us on the beach for his release!

Stay tuned for more updates on Sodapop’s release! 

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