Posts Tagged 'MARP turtles'

Thoughtful Thursdays: Update on Rescued Sea Turtles

2013 is off to a busy start!

As we mentioned in a previous post, our Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) is currently caring for seven patients in our Animal Care Center’s sea turtle rehab area. All of our patients have come from the New England Aquarium, where there has been a historic influx of cold-stunned turtles.

Their rescue team has been doing an amazing job responding and treating more than 200 turtles in just a few short months. Once some of their patients were deemed healthy enough for travel, they were transported to animal care institutions along the east coast for additional treatment and release.

Our Associate Veterinarian Kat Hadfield prepares for the ride back to Baltimore with one of our current patients! Photo via NEAQ

Our Associate Veterinarian Kat Hadfield prepares for the ride back to Baltimore with one of our current patients! Photo via NEAQ

All seven of our patients (three Kemp’s ridleys, three green sea turtles and one loggerhead) are being treated for cold-stunning - a hypothermic reaction that occurs when sea turtles are exposed to cold water for a prolonged period of time.

Unfortunately, as water temperatures drop, it impairs a turtles’ ability to swim/dive normally. This puts them at a greater risk of being struck by things in the water, such as boat propellers. That was the case for our loggerhead patient, who also sustained multiple injuries, including one that required amputation of its right front flipper.

These deep cuts in the loggerhead's carapace (shell) were likely done by a boat propeller.

These deep cuts in the loggerhead’s carapace (shell) were likely done by a boat propeller.

We’re happy to report that this turtle is healing well on its own and is eating a lot (it is currently enjoying a well-rounded diet of crab, squid, shrimp and fish)!

Even with his injury, the loggerhead is swimming well and enjoys exploring his temporary home!

Even with his injury, the loggerhead is swimming well and enjoys exploring his temporary home!

Due to his steady improvement and recovery, we hope to be able to release this turtle in the coming weeks. We will be tracking him via satellite to collect additional data to support our past research on how turtles with front flipper amputations survive in the wild.

To learn more about MARP and how you can help support our animal rescue efforts, visit aqua.org/MARP.

Want to get more behind-the-scenes access to what’s happening here at the Aquarium? Subscribe to our YouTube channel for updates on our animals, rescues/releases and the construction of our new exhibit, Blacktip Reef! 

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!


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