Posts Tagged 'National Aquarium Animal Rescue'



Illustrating the Effects of Cold-Stunning on Sea Turtles

national aquarium Animal Rescue Update

I’m proud to announce that an illustration depicting the physiological effects of cold-stunning in sea turtles, was recently awarded an honorable mention in the 2013 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge! The illustration, which was the result of a collaborative relationship between the National Aquarium and the Johns Hopkins Department of Art as Applied to Medicine, was drafted by student Katelyn McDonald.

The illustration depicts the physical and physiological (affecting the function of organs, tissues, and cells) effects of a cold stunning on sea turtles.

cold-stun illustration

 Sea turtles are cold-blooded, meaning their body temperature relies on the temperature of their environment. Cold-stunning is essentially hypothermia (low body temperature) for sea turtles. Cold-stunning events in the northeast region cause chronic illnesses for turtles, which must undergo months of rehabilitation. While the turtles may not appear sick externally, the illustration demonstrates the multitude of internal illnesses and complications that result from chronic low body temperature.

cold-stun illustration

A closer look at Katelyn’s illustration of the effects cold-stunning have on sea turtles.

Founded in 1911, the Johns Hopkins Department of Art as Applied to Medicine was the first of its kind in the world. This intense two-year graduate program has trained medical illustrators to advance medical and scientific knowledge using illustration.

For more than 20 years, students from this program have worked with our Vice President of Biological Programs, Dr. Brent Whitaker, and staff as part of their training. The illustrations produced from this collaborative relationship have been published in books, journal articles, pamphlets, and training manuals and have been used for a variety of other purposes.

We’re excited that Science Magazine and the National Science Foundation have chosen the cold-stun piece as an Honorable Mention for the 2013 Visualization Challenge. Congratulations to Katelyn on this tremendous accomplishment!

Animal Rescue Expert

An Update on our Sea Turtle Patients!

national aquarium Animal Rescue Update

The cold-stun turtle season has died down, and 19 turtles are now being cared for by our Animal Rescue team. Fifteen of our turtle patients came from Cape Cod; three traveled South from New Jersey; and one came to our facility from Ocean City, Maryland. Thus far, all 19 turtle patients have taken their rehabilitation in stride! Currently, our team has 8 stable patients, 8 less critical and 3 critical patients.

national aquarium animal rescue

Our hospital pool is teeming with patients!

Cold-stunned sea turtles are typically admitted with abrasions and lesions from the rocky and rough winter seashores. Many also have secondary infections, including pneumonia, upper respiratory infections and joint swelling.

As you can imagine, keeping 19 turtles on track with medical treatments, feedings and enrichment can become quite a handful, but the Animal Rescue staff and volunteers have come together, and the success stories continue to mount! To date, we have three turtles that are completely off medications (which means we are hopeful for release options in the near future) as well as a few turtles that have really turned a positive corner in their treatment and diet plans.

A Kemp’s Ridley turtle named Charlie had a particularly rough start to his rehabilitation process. Charlie was not eating consistently and our veterinary and husbandry staff were having a tough time pinpointing what could be causing the changes in his behavior and health. After a CT scan at John’s Hopkins, several medications and daily ultrasounds, we found a mass near his heart that may have been causing some discomfort and/or health troubles.

national aquarium turtle charlie

Charlie

Over the last few days, Charlie has taken a great leap forward in his rehabilitation! He is not only eating the same amount as the healthy sea turtles, but the mass near his heart is getting smaller and smaller with each ultrasound that our veterinary staff complete!

Another Kemp’s Ridley patient, Blade, underwent surgery with our vet staff last week to repair a shell fracture. We’re happy to report that Blade is recovering well after the procedure and his fracture is officially on-the-mend!

national aquarium sea turtle blade

Blade pre-surgery on January 21, 2014.

As for our other patients, we are continuing to follow treatment plans and behavioral observations so that we can add more of them to our “stable” column. In the meantime, these 19 sea turtles are chowing down on three pounds of food per day — consisting of squid, shrimp, capelin ( a lean fish) and the occasional soft shell blue crab. With a diet like that, and the fantastic care from our staff many releases are sure to come for these beautiful sea turtles!

national aquarium animal rescue expert jennifer dittmar

First Seal of the Season Spotted in Maryland!

national aquarium Animal Rescue Update

Earlier this morning, we received photo confirmation of the first seal sighting along the Maryland coast!

seal on the beach

Every winter, migrating seals make their way back to our shores. Seals are semi-aquatic, which means they like to spend part of their time in the water and part of their time on land. During migration, seals will typically spend a couple of days swimming south, occasionally hauling out on beaches, rocks or docks to rest.

If you’re lucky enough to see a seal on the beach, it’s best to give the animal at least 100 feet of space and, if possible, stay downwind. Enjoy watching our seasonal visitors from a distance (and take plenty of photos/videos!) but please try not to disturb them, as they still have a long journey ahead of them!

As you see in the photo above, a healthy seal can usually be observed resting in a “banana position,” on their side with their head and/or rear flippers in the air. A seal that is injured, ill or entangled in marine debris, it will often be seen resting flat on its stomach.

If you see a seal that may be in need of medical attention, please call the National Aquarium’s Stranding Hotline at (410) 373-0083 or the Natural Resources Police at (800) 628-9944! 

In Maryland, you can also report seal sightings on the Maryland Coastal Bays Program’s website.

The National Aquarium and Maryland Coastal Bays Program have partnered together to promote responsible viewing of marine mammals, both along the Maryland coast and within the entire mid-Atlantic region. Funding for this joint awareness campaign was provided by the John H. Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grant Program.

national aquarium animal rescue expert

Looking Forward to 2014!

Before we get too far into this exciting new year, we’d like to first take a moment to thank our amazing online community for their support and love in 2013!

national aquarium thanks you

Together, we were able to accomplish some pretty amazing things this past year and we’re excited to see just what 2014 has in store for us.

Here’s what some our experts are looking forward to in the New Year:

Jenn Dittmar, Manager of National Aquarium Animal Rescue

I’m looking forward to continuing to rehab our current cold-stun patients and coordinating their releases later this year.

national aquarium kemps ridley turtle

I’m also looking forward to hosting the annual dolphin count and coordinating exciting upgrades to our seal rehabilitation facility!

Laura Bankey, Director of Conservation

I’m really looking forward to a busy field season in 2014.  We have projects scheduled from New York to Virginia and I always look forward to winter ending so we can start restoring habitats again.

Masonville Cove

This year, I’m also excited about the opportunity to host the National Wildlife Federation and our other state affiliate partners for NWF’s Annual Meeting.  Conservation partners from across the country will be joining us in Baltimore in May and I can’t wait to show off our wonderful Aquarium and our local field projects!

Jack Cover, General Curator

In 2014, I’m looking forward to finding new ways to use our exhibits and animals to raise awareness of the diversity of life that can be found in a healthy beach ecosystem.

longsnout seahorse

Every shell found on a beach has a story to tell and I hope to share many of these stories with you all in the New Year!

Sarah Elfreth, Government Affairs

I’m thankful for the Aquarium community’s support in helping Maryland become the first state on the East Coast to ban the possession, sale, and trade of shark fins.

maryland shark fin bill

I’m excited to work on other policy issues aimed at protecting aquatic life in 2014!

Holly Bourbon, Curator of Fishes

My team will be focused on so many exciting things in the New Year. Chief among them are our brand-new exhibit, Blacktip Reef, and the settling of animals from our closed Washington, DC venue into their new homes here in Baltimore.

national aquarium loggerhead turtle

One animal from DC, a loggerhead named Brownie, is particularly exciting for us. Brownie is part of the Loggerhead Head Start program, which gives sea turtle hatchlings a head start at a great life . In 2014, I hope to see him reach a releasable size!

Leigh Clayton, Director of Animal Health

2014 is already shaping up to be a very busy and exciting year for me.

In just a few short weeks, I’m be in Orlando, Florida lecturing at the North American Veterinary Conference, one of the largest vet conferences in the US. My lectures will mostly focus on reptiles, covering everything from insectivore nutrition to oral disease.

I’m looking forward to seeing a paper written by one of our prior interns, Dr. Kathy Tuxbur, published in the Diseases of Aquatic Organisms journal. A lot of Kathy’s work with us as an intern focused on horseshoe crabs and the carapace lesions and branchitis that can sometimes present in the species.

national aquarium baby sloth scout

Lastly, I’m looking forward to seeing our newest baby sloth, Scout, continue to grow and mature!

Heather Doggett, Director of Visitor Programs and Staff Training

I am excited to spend more time with my family outdoors, enjoying nature and doing some new citizen science activities with my four-year-old.

local wildlife

I’m hoping to take more hikes in 2014 and record what we find!

What are you looking forward to this year? Tell us in the comments section! 

A Blue View: Taking Care of Turtles

A Blue View is a weekly perspective on the life aquatic, hosted by National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli.

From the smallest plants and animals invisible to the human eye to entire ecosystems, every living thing depends on and is intricately linked by water.

Tune in to 88.1 WYPR every Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. as John brings to the surface important issues and fascinating discoveries making waves in the world today.

December 18, 2013: Taking Care of Turtles

A Blue View podcastClick here to listen to John and our Manager
of Animal Rescue, Jenn Dittmar
discuss this
year’s influx of cold- 
stunned sea turtle patients!

Last winter was an historic year for turtle rescue, with a cold-stun incident stranding hundreds of turtles along the northeast coast. This year is off to another quick start, with many turtles stranded already and more coming in every day (In fact, our team is slated to get another 6-9 patients this afternoon!).

national aquarium kemps ridley turtle

How cold-stunning works: A sea turtles body temperature will drop (from the ideal range of 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit) to match the temperature of the water that surrounds them.  As the weather gets colder in our area and water temps dip, the turtles become hypothermic.

The hypothermia suppresses the turtles’ immune system, leaving them susceptible to pneumonia and infections, and can keep them from diving properly, which is how they collect much of their food.

So far this season,  close to 100 cold-stunned turtles have come into Animal Rescue facilities along the Northeast. While the numbers have yet to match last year’s historic influx, this season has already seen a lot of activity!

Click here to listen to Jenn describe how the turtles are rescued and released! 

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