Posts Tagged 'MARP'

Update from the seal room: Countdown to release!

With the arrival of June and warmer weather, Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) staff and volunteers are preparing to release our rehab patients back to their natural environment. You may remember that eight weeks ago, Guinness the gray seal had a wire placed around his lower jaw to increase stabilization in order to facilitate healthy healing. Well, on June 7, our staff and veterinarians worked together to safely remove the wire to prepare him for his next big step…moving out, back into the wild!

Watch a video about Guinness’s jaw surgery:

Over these last few months, Guinness has made great progress in his healing and overall health. When he came to us in March, he was in great need of some hearty fish and some rest to heal his wounds that he acquired along his travels. Our Marine Animal Rescue Program staff and volunteers have worked nonstop to make sure that he is healthy and ready for release at the end of this month.

Guinness the Gray Seal

You may notice that Guinness no longer has that nice brown/tan coat that he came to us with, but now shows his true gray seal colors in black and gray.  Recently, he went through a molt where he lost all that brown fur to reveal his new black coat! The only evidence of his previous coloration lies around his rear flippers. You may also notice a yellow tag on his flipper. This tag will help us to identify him if he happens to venture into our local waters in the future. Tagging these rehabilitated animals is just one more step that our staff must take to prepare them for their big trip back to the ocean!

While Guinness is still with us for the next couple of weeks, we still need to keep his mind stimulated and his natural behaviors encouraged, which we do with daily environmental enrichment. In this picture you can see a pile of ice cubes with some capelin mixed in. This enrichment is not only a different way for Guinness to get some of his food, but it also helps to cool him down with the outside temperatures rising.

Guinness’s health and weight are much improved, and we at MARP hope to wish him safe travels later this month, pending his exit exam. Vets will check his blood diagnostics one final time, make sure his tag is healing appropriately, and also that the small incision under his jaw where the wire was removed is healed completely. After that, we will transport him to a quiet beach, where he can venture back into his natural environment.

We are also preparing to release the sea turtles that have been in rehabilitation since December. Rescuing and caring for these animals is very costly, and it would not be possible without the support of our volunteers and donations from friends like you. 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 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 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.

Counting dolphins

It’s the annual dolphin count! Tomorrow, July 16, members of the National Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue Program will be along the coast of Ocean City, Maryland, counting dolphins. Staff and volunteers will spend a few hours on the beach watching the water for passing dolphins and filling out data sheets.  Teams will be stationed on the beaches at 40th Street and 130th Street and at Assateague State Park. There will also be a vessel-based team aboard an Ocean City Coast Guard boat.

Why are we counting dolphins? Annual dolphin counts help marine mammal specialists gather long-term information about dolphin populations, reproduction rates and ocean health. We have learned that bottlenose dolphins use Maryland waters as a thoroughfare for migration, summertime breeding and feeding along the way.  Looking at population numbers over the years can help to determine the health of the coastal ecosystem, as well as the abundance of prey. With your help, we will continue to gather and analyze this information and learn more about the state of our waters and the dolphin populations that are found off our coast.

There are two ways to join in the fun: 1. Find us on the beach! If you are in the Ocean City area tomorrow from 9 a.m. to noon, look for our Aquarium teams in blue at 40th Street and 130th Street. Bring your binoculars and help us count dolphins. 2. Enter our dolphin count contest! Think you know how many dolphins we will spot tomorrow? Text “count” and your guess to 30644 and you could win a pair of tickets to the Aquarium. (Msg and data rates apply.) The contest will end at 1 p.m. ET on Friday. The official count and winners will be announced here, so please check back.

Good luck and happy counting!

Volunteer Spotlight: For the love of rescues

The National Aquarium truly values every volunteer who lends us his/her time, and some volunteers go far above and beyond what we could ever ask of them.  In fact, we begin to wonder, how would we get by without them?! 

Chuck Erbe is one such volunteer.  Chuck was no stranger to animal rescues when he first came to our Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) several years ago; he volunteered in Delaware with the Marine Education, Research, and Rehabilitation Institute and actually assisted MARP  with rescues and releases even before he came to be part of our program.  He was drawn to the compassion of the MARP staff and the contributions they made to the stranding network, and when he pursued the opportunity to become involved in MARP we knew he would be a perfect fit!

Chuck’s contagious passion for healthy oceans has helped make dozens of MARP outreach events successful, and he has the rare ability to get through to people and really make an impact.  He mentions “participating in the educational outreach workshops and seeing the enthusiasm of the young children as we talk to them” as a source of inspiration to continue his volunteer work.  Chuck is generous with more than just his time, and he is always donating to our cause – take, for instance, the larger-than-life sea turtle model that he decided our MARP outreach display simply could not do without!

Continue reading ‘Volunteer Spotlight: For the love of rescues’

Rehabilitated turtle prepares for release

In July, a loggerhead sea turtle came to the Aquarium through our Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP), which takes in stranded marine animals with the goal of treating them back to health and releasing them back into their natural habitats.

 Upon arrival the turtle was thin and her shell was covered with barnacles, mussels, and a thick growth of algae. To assess the turtle’s health, the Aquarium’s veterinary staff needed to evaluate the condition of her shell and check for any internal disease.

For this very special case, the vets called on the help of outside healthcare professionals. The radiology staff at John’s Hopkins Hospital stepped in to help. They volunteered their time and gave the Aquarium staff after hours access to their equipment, so the vets could get a good look at the turtles internal functions. Check out the video:

Continue reading ‘Rehabilitated turtle prepares for release’

Sign up for AquaMail

Twitter Updates