Posts Tagged 'kemps ridley sea turtles'

Last Kemp’s ridley turtle released back to sea

From Amber White, Marine Animal Rescue Program Aide

What, to many, seemed like a cold and dreary day this weekend was an exciting day for a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle; after more than nine months in rehab, he was finally ready to go home.

Ready to go home

On October 1, the last of the 11 cold-stunned Kemp’s ridley sea turtles the Marine Animal Rescue Program took in last winter was released into the Chesapeake Bay from the quiet beach at Point Lookout State Park.

Even though the air temperatures have dropped and it feels like fall, the bay water still provides optimal water temperatures for this little guy to start his new life back at sea.

This turtle was kept in rehab longer than the others for continued observation of his digestive system. We always make sure we give each turtle the absolute best chance for survival in the wild. Unfortunately, in their natural environment, sea turtles come across many manmade materials that look like the food they would eat, such as plastic bags, balloons, and small plastic objects. Ingesting this trash can injure marine animals, or even result in death from asphyxiation.

With his X-rays and final medical examination receiving the OK from our wonderful veterinary staff, he was given the green light for release.

Neither rain nor wind could stop this turtle from making the trek across the sand and back into his natural habitat.

Release

A big thank you to the staff at Point Lookout State Park, for allowing us to use their beach for all of our releases this summer. We have a great partnership with the park staff and always look forward to working with them.

Healthy animals make their way home

It’s been an exciting week for the Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue Program, as they have traveled across Maryland to release six rehabilitated animals back to their ocean habitat!

Last Friday, the team traveled to Ocean City, Maryland, to release Guinness, the juvenile gray seal that originally stranded in Kittyhawk, North Carolina, on March 17, and days later came to the National Aquarium for rehabilitation.

Watch a video of Guinness’ release:

Just two days later, the team traveled to Point Lookout State Park in Scotland, Maryland, to release five rehabilitated Kemp’s ridley sea turtles into the Bay. The five turtles, nicknamed Donner, Blitzen, Rudolph, Frosty, and Buddy after winter characters, were part of a larger group of cold-stunned turtles that came to the Aquarium from New England in December. As we’ve shared over the past six months, it has been a long journey for these endangered turtles. The release was certainly a celebration for our MARP team, and the hundreds of people who gathered on the beach to help send the turtles back to sea!

Watch a video of the releases:

Our friends at Oceana joined us for the turtle releases to help educate people about their save the sea turtles campaign, which is dedicated to the protection and restoration of sea turtle populations in the world’s oceans. The campaign works to reduce sea turtle bycatch in fisheries, protect sea turtle habitat and develop legislation to protect sea turtles.

Whenever financially and ethically possible, MARP fits released animals with satellite tags. The tags allow the team to temporarily monitor the migration of reintroduced animals. Whenever the animal surfaces, the tag sends a signal to a satellite, indicating its location.

Thanks to a recent grant, Guinness, Rudolph and Buddy were all affixed with satellite tracking tags. Guinness has already traveled more than 200 miles north, while the turtles seem to be hanging within a 50-mile radius of their release location. You can track their travels on our animal tracking page.

MARP depends on the generosity of volunteers to operate, but medical equipment, medications, and food for caring for these animals is expensive. If you’d like to help support MARP, you can make a donation online, or donate $5 right from your mobile phone by texting ACT to 20222.

A one-time donation of $5 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your prepaid balance. All donations must be authorized by the account holder. All charges are billed by and payable to your mobile service provider. Service is available on most carriers. Donations are collected for the benefit of the National Aquarium by the Mobile Giving Foundation and subject to the terms found at www.hmgf.org/t. Messaging & data rates may apply. You can unsubscribe at any time by texting STOP to 20222; text HELP to 20222 for help.

Today at 12:30 ET: Marine Animal Rescue webcast

Happy World Oceans Day!

TODAY at 12:30 p.m. (Eastern), tune in to our Facebook page for a live webcast and interactive Q&A with the Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue Program staff! They’re busy preparing to release several rehabilitated Kemp’s ridley sea turtles back to their ocean habitat; watch and see what it takes to get these animals ready for release.

Jenn and turtle

The release will take place on Sunday, June 26, at 11 a.m. at the swimming beach of Point Lookout State Park, MD. The release event is free and open to the public, but park entrance fees do apply.

A closer look into turtle-mania

Our Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) team is still hard at work caring for 11 rescued Kemp’s ridley sea turtles. These staff and volunteers spend a great deal of time with the animals during their stay at the Aquarium. A simple pleasure enjoyed by our MARP team is the opportunity to give each animal a proper nickname so they can be remembered long after they are released back to their natural habitat.

These turtles were admitted to the rehabilitation program in December, when the Aquarium was buzzing with holiday spirit! Check out the video below for a closer look at our patients: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, Rudolph, Frosty and Buddy (the elf)!

If you want to help us care for these turtles, you can make a donation online, or donate $5 right from your mobile phone by texting ACT to 20222.

A one-time donation of $5 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your prepaid balance. All donations must be authorized by the account holder. All charges are billed by and payable to your mobile service provider. Service is available on most carriers. Donations are collected for the benefit of the National Aquarium by the Mobile Giving Foundation and subject to the terms found at www.hmgf.org/t. Messaging & Data Rates May Apply. You can unsubscribe at any time by texting STOP to 20222; text HELP to 20222 for help.

Feeding hungry sea turtles

From Jenn Dittmar, MARP stranding coordinator

In recent posts, we introduced you to five Kemp’s ridley sea turtles that have been in rehab with us for three weeks now. On December 22, we welcomed six additional Kemp’s ridley sea turtles rescued by the New England Aquarium. We now have a total of 11 sea turtles in rehabilitation!

Taking care of animals in rehabilitation requires a lot of work! We’ll do our best to keep you posted on their progress and give you a glimpse into the hard work it takes to care for these animals.

Next to routine medical care, a healthy diet is a must for animals in rehabilitation. We feed all our animals–whether they are in rehabilitation or a part of our permanent collection–restaurant-quality food to ensure it is the highest quality.

Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are carnivores, and in their natural environment they typically enjoy a varied diet consisting of crabs, shrimp, barnacles, mussels, clams, squid, fish and jellies. Eating a variety of food items is essential to a balanced diet for a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, so we provide just that.

Twice a day, MARP staff and volunteers prepare foods such as capelin (a lean fish), squid, mussels and shrimp for the turtles. Crabs are also offered as a special treat for the turtles. Though they are a treat, crabs provide a significant source of calcium for the turtles. Calcium plays a very important role in reptile health, which we monitor through routine blood tests.

Here you can see how we prepare food for the turles. On this particular day, I prepared capelin, squid, shrimp and soft-shell crab. You can see that we chop the whole food items down to bite-size pieces.

 

 

 

 

At this stage of rehab, the turtles are eager to eat when food is offered. To accurately track their diets, we calculate the amount of food each turtle should receive daily and then keep detailed records of how much food they actually eat.

Here you can see a meal being weighed out, then the final result after all the turtle meals have been prepared (only five turtles were being fed for this particular feed). If you look closely, you can see the little red dots on the tray, which are multivitamins.

 

 

 

Feeding hungry turtles can be challenging, especially with several turtles sharing a pool, and I like to compare it to a well-choreographed but improvised ballet!

Feeding all those hungry mouths, along with providing health care can be expensive; we certainly can’t ask a sick or injured turtle for proof of insurance before deciding to admit it for rehabilitation. You can directly help feed or care for an endangered sea turtle by making a tax-deductible donation to MARP.

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!

Our commitment to the gulf

You can’t go far without seeing disturbing images as millions of gallons of oil threaten the Gulf’s irreplaceable ecosystem.

We’d like to share that the National Aquarium is poised to lend assistance. As an active member of the Northeast Region Stranding Network, we are closely connected with agencies responding to this disaster. We were notified to expect requests for help with the sea turtles injured by the oil. We are assessing our facility and have a team of highly skilled staff members ready to help.  Animals and oil are coming ashore now in significant numbers and response efforts must be coordinated, far-reaching and long term.

This man-made disaster has the potential to be devastating to these fragile animals. There are only seven species of sea turtles in the world, and all of them are endangered or threatened, at risk of being wiped out completely. Five of these vulnerable species frequent the Gulf of Mexico to breed and to lay their eggs. We believe the stakes are too high not to invest the time and resources to help as many turtles as possible. Truly, every sea turtle counts. Learn more about our efforts here.

Beyond this disaster, we remain committed to caring for stranded animals in our own mid-Atlantic region. This Saturday, June 19, we are proudly releasing three rare Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles that have been under our care since December.

The turtles came to the National Aquarium from New England and Delaware, suffering from cases of cold stunning- the sea turtle equivalent of hypothermia. After six months of rehabilitation by The National Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP), the turtles, named Marshall, Patterson, and Hampden, are ready to return to their ocean home!

Continue reading ‘Our commitment to the gulf’


Sign up for AquaMail

Like us on Facebook!

Twitter Updates


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 263 other followers