Posts Tagged 'National Aquarium Animal Rescue'



Scientists Gather in Baltimore for International Sea Turtle Symposium

Sea turtles have been an integral part of ecosystems for more than 60 million years and, this week, National Aquarium will be co-hosting the 33rd Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation to make sure they stay that way.

More than 1,000 scientists and conservationists from 75 countries are expected to attend the symposium presented by the International Sea Turtle Society.

The theme for this year’s symposium is “Connections” and will include discussions around sea turtle biology, research and conservation, marine turtle ecological interactions, coastal communities, collaborative research, community-based conservation and more. Outreach and educational activities planned for the symposium will highlight the presence of sea turtles in the Chesapeake Bay and the myriad of environmental issues impacting the watershed.

Being located on the Chesapeake Bay, the largest watershed on the east coast and an important foraging area for some sea turtle species, National Aquarium is deeply invested in the cause. The need for sea turtle conservation action is urgent. It is going to take many people from many countries across the world to save these species.

Chesapeake Bay

The Chesapeake Bay is the largest watershed on the east coast and home to more than 300 species of aquatic animal.

This year has been an extraordinarily busy sea turtle stranding season with a record of more than 200 reported strandings so far from along the east coast. As part of the Northeast Stranding Network, National Aquarium is responsible for responding to live sea turtle and marine mammal strandings along the nearly 4,300 miles of coastline in Maryland, including the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic coasts.

Your support has been critical to the continued work of our MARP team to rescue and rehabilitate turtles, including this loggerhead hatchling!

Early in the stranding season, National Aquarium rescued this loggerhead hatchling.

Although Maryland has not seen many local turtle strandings, National Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue Program is working closely with other institutions like New England Aquarium to take on many of the turtle patients. With successful releases earlier this month, the animal rescue team continues to work with these other institutions to provide rehabilitation.

Olympian making his way back into the open ocean!

Every patient release is cause for celebration! As was the case with Olympian, a green sea turtle rehabilitated at the Aquarium last year.

All sea turtles occurring in U.S. waters are listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and are under the joint jurisdiction of NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Major threats to sea turtles in the U.S. include, but are not limited to: cold-stunning; destruction and alteration of nesting and foraging habitats; incidental capture in commercial and recreational fisheries; entanglement in marine debris; and vessel strikes.

The Symposium will kick off with a Welcome Social on Monday, February 4 at National Aquarium and will run through Friday, February 8 at the Marriott Waterfront. The exhibit/vendor area will be open to the public on specific days.  In addition to on-site sessions and presentations, this year the event will also go off-site into the local Baltimore community, providing teacher and educator workshops, live streaming of special sessions to local schools and universities as well as a sea turtle art contest in Baltimore City schools. On Tuesday, students from four Baltimore City schools and one Baltimore County school will have the opportunity learn more about the importance of turtles at special Q&A sessions with sea turtle experts. Click here to download a full event program.

National Aquarium staff and experts will be present at many of the symposium’s events this week and would love to see you there! For more information on registration, click here.

Can’t join us in person? You can still participate online by submitting your questions to us in the comments section! If you could ask a sea turtle expert something, what would you want to know?

Thoughtful Thursdays: Spotted! Seals Make Their Way to MD Shores

As temperatures continue to drop here in Maryland and along the East Coast, migrating seals are making their way back to our shores!

This seal was spotted near 28th street in Ocean City, Maryland! Photo via Maryland Coastal Bays Program

This seal was spotted near 28th street in Ocean City, Maryland! Photo via Maryland Coastal Bays Program

Seals are semi-aquatic (which means they like to spend part of the time in the water and part of the time on land). They will typically spend multiple days swimming south, only to haul out on beaches, rocks or docks to rest. Seals will also haul out on exceptionally stormy or sunny days – this gives them a chance to wait out the stormy seas or soak up some warm sun, depending on the weather.

If you’re lucky enough to see a seal on the beach in Maryland, it’s best to give the animal lots of space (at least 100 feet of distance) and stay downwind, if possible. By all means, enjoy watching the seals and take plenty of pictures, but please do not disturb them – they have had a long commute from the north.

Furthermore, disturbing the animal by making it change locations or flee back into the water is against the law. Seals are federally protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

A healthy, resting seal will typically be seen in a “banana position” on their side with their head or rear flippers in the air (see photo below). A seal that is entangled in marine debris or has physical wounds will often be resting flat on its stomach and may need medical attention.

posture

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 1-800-628-9944.

Thoughtful Thursdays: Update on Rescued Sea Turtles

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jWHshbM6iE]

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! 

Thoughtful Thursdays: MARP Turtle Update

This year, our friends at the New England Aquarium have received a record number of turtle patients to their Animal Care Center. After more than 160 severely cold stunned turtles came through their doors in the past month, they reached out to our Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) team for help in rehabilitating some of these turtles for release.

New England Aquarium's Animal Care Center is filled to the brim with patients!

New England Aquarium’s Animal Care Center is filled to the brim with patients!
Photo via NEAQ

We currently have seven patients in our Animal Care Center’s turtle rehab area – three Kemp’s ridleys, three green sea turtles and one loggerhead.

One of our green sea turtle patients

One of our green sea turtle patients

All seven of our turtle patients 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. In addition to cold stunning, two of the turtles have also presented common complications including pneumonia and unstable blood pH. Our team is working hard to treat these specific problems and the overall health of each turtle.

This Kemp's ridley is used to its new surroundings in our turtle rehab area!

This Kemp’s ridley is used to its new surroundings in our turtle rehab area!

The loggerhead turtle was the first patient to arrive at our facility from New England. In addition to being cold stunned, this turtle had also suffered from a dramatic injury to its front-right flipper, sustained before the initial rescue. As a result, the flipper had to be amputated. Although we’re always saddened to see these types of severe injuries, this new patient is a great example of how far our animal rehabilitation efforts have come in recent years.

Our loggerhead patient is by far our largest!

Our loggerhead patient is by far our largest!

As many may know, our beloved 400-pound green sea turtle, Calypso, originally came to National Aquarium as a rescue. Weighing just 6 pounds, this small turtle was cold stunned and had an infected left front flipper. The flipper was not treatable and was amputated. After the amputation, Calypso was deemed “non-releasable” by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA).

Calypso, a beloved member of our Aquarium family, has grown to weigh more than 400 lbs!

Calypso, a beloved member of our Aquarium family, has grown to weigh more than 400 pounds!

In more recent years, research has shown that many turtles with natural front flipper amputations can survive in the wild. In fact, we were able to rehabilitate and release our first turtle with an amputation, lovingly referred to as “Ed,” in 2006. Our MARP team tracked Ed via satellite tag to ensure that he was doing well after release.

We’re happy to report that our loggerhead patient is doing so well that we have an exit exam scheduled in early January. If all goes well, the turtle will be transferred to North Carolina for release!

Stay tuned for more updates from our MARP team! 

MARP Caring for Rescued Loggerhead Sea Turtle Hatchling and Nest

Our Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) is currently caring for a rescued loggerhead sea turtle nest of 160 eggs and one live hatchling found on the north end of Assateague Island National Seashore.

baby loggerhead turtle

Baby loggerhead turtle hatchling and egg

The nest, which had been incubating in the sand since the end of July, was excavated by MARP and staff from the National Park Service and Maryland Department of Natural Resources late last month before the arrival of high winds and waves from Hurricane Sandy.

turtle eggs

Rescue staff examining eggs during the excavation

The area off Maryland’s eastern shore never has had a confirmed viable sea turtle nest until now. Our MARP team is working closely with various representatives from North Carolina that are experienced with sea turtle nest incubation and hatchlings, including North Carolina State Wildlife Resources Commission, North Carolina Aquarium, and NC State University, to determine the needs of the nest.

turtle eggs

Turtle eggs being documented

The live turtle hatchling is swimming strongly and enjoying supervised deep dives to build endurance. The baby has become stronger and stronger every day and recently reached a milestone by enjoying its first overnight swim. The MARP team is closely monitoring its health while providing antibiotics as a precaution.

baby turtle

The baby turtle is enjoying supervised swims to build up its strength!

loggerhead turtle hatchling

Loggerhead turtle hatchling

The turtle nest was found in sand that was approximately 66 degrees; low temperatures lessen the success rate of turtle nests. Following the arrival of the nest, our team has raised the temperature of the nest to 80 degrees. The eggs require time, moisture and heat, which the MARP team is providing at our off-site Animal Care Center. So far, there is no activity from the nest itself but we are monitoring it closely. According to North Carolina State Wildlife Resources Commission, the hatch success of loggerhead sea turtle nests in North Carolina is about 75%. Unfortunately, nests laid at higher latitudes have a decreased chance of hatch success, which is due to lower temperatures and increased incubation time.

turtle nest

The area where this turtle nest was found is much colder than the typical turtle nest.

The average incubation time for a loggerhead nest in warmer climates is 70 days. Due to the colder temperatures, nests in the Maryland area require more time, not hatching for more than 100 days. Last year, a nest was found in Delaware that did not hatch until day 109. Information from these nests is being collected and evaluated by the National Aquarium, Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the National Park Service, to aid in drafting sea turtle nesting guidelines for Maryland.

turtle rescue

The Marine Animal Rescue Program team continues to care for the young hatchling at our off-site Animal Care Center

National Aquarium team members hope to rehabilitate the young turtle hatchling to a point where it is strong enough to be released. They plan to release it into warmer waters in conjunction with North Carolina State Wildlife Resources Commission and North Carolina Aquarium.

Stay tuned to hear more about this rescue here on our WATERblog!

National Aquarium Celebrates Rescued Turtle Release

This morning, National Aquarium Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) joined the South Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Rescue Program for a release of three rescued sea turtles. The rehabilitated turtles, Olympian, a juvenile green sea turtle; Merigo, a juvenile Kemp’s ridley sea turtle; and Charlie, a loggerhead sea turtle, came to both facilities either sick or injured.

Olympian
Olympian, a 9-pound green sea turtle, was brought to the National Aquarium MARP team after being spotted floating off the coast of New Jersey in August. Olympian was treated for over-inflated lungs and possible pneumonia in the new MARP sea turtle rehabilitation center. Staff closely monitored the turtle’s behavior, diet and health and within a few weeks, found him resting on the bottom of his tank.

marine animal rescue

National Aquarium team members joined in South Carolina to say farewell and good luck to Olympian. Photo Courtesy of South Carolina Aquarium

Olympian has been outfitted with a satellite transmitter that allows the Aquarium team to track the location and speed following the release. These tags help researchers learn more about sea turtle migration and travel patterns.

The public is invited to keep an eye on Olympian’s journey at: aqua.org/olympian

green sea turtle

Olympian, the green sea turtle, is outfitted with a satellite transmitter & the public is invited to keep an eye on Olympian’s journey! Photo courtesy of South Carolina Aquarium

 

Merigo
Merigo, a 9-pound juvenile Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, was brought to the South Carolina Sea Turtle Rescue Program in January with a large group of Kemp’s ridley and loggerhead sea turtles found cold-stunned off the coast of Massachusetts. Sea turtles are cold-blooded reptiles but become hypothermic when exposed to cold water temperatures for extended periods of time. Kemp’s are the most endangered and the smallest of all sea turtle species, making them particularly vulnerable to severe changes in water temperature. Merigo is the last of the original January rescue turtles group to be released.

Kemp’s ridley sea turtle

Merigo, a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, prepped and ready to be released.
Photo courtesy of South Carolina Aquarium

Kemp’s ridley sea turtle

Merigo getting ready to jump in!
Photo courtesy of South Carolina Aquarium

Charlie
Charlie, a 150-pound loggerhead sea turtle, was found by the Department of Natural Resource’s research vessel, the Lady Lisa, in June. Charlie had a stingray barb in his front flipper and a puncture wound in his neck. South Carolina’s Sea Turtle Rescue Program provided antibiotics as well as wound treatment and he has now fully recovered from his injuries.

loggerhead rescue turtle

Being a much larger turtle, it took a few people to lift Charlie! Photo courtesy of South Carolina Aquarium

loggerhead sea turtle

Charlie, a loggerhead sea turtle, ready to jump in the warm waters!
Photo courtesy of South Carolina Aquarium

Prior to release, all three turtles had been very active in their rehab tanks, with healthy appetites and desire for enrichment activities.

About MARP

Every year, thousands of sea turtles, dolphins, whales, seals and manatees become sick or injured, often due to human-related reasons. National Aquarium is part of the Northeast Stranding Network, and is responsible for responding to live sea turtle and marine mammal strandings along the nearly 7,000 miles of coastline in Maryland, including the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic coasts.

Since 1991, the National Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) has responded to more than 480 animals in distress and has rehabilitated and released nearly 100 marine animals back to their natural environment. Many of these animals are endangered or threatened, so every individual introduced back into the natural environment has the opportunity to add to the genetic diversity of the species.

Research, satellite tracking and outreach education are also significant components of MARP. Every animal that is rehabilitated and released is an opportunity to raise awareness and get the public involved in helping to conserve and protect our marine resources.

YOU can help protect marine animals too! Here are some quick tips:

  • Be responsible with your litter: recycle and dispose of trash properly, including fishing line, cigarette butts, six-pack rings, plastic debris, and metal cans.
  • Never release balloons. Balloons can fall into bodies of water, where animals confuse them for food or become entangled in them.
  • If you come across a stranded marine animal in Maryland that may be in need of medical attention, please call the National Aquarium’s Stranding Hotline at 410-373-0083, or the Maryland Natural Resources Police at 1-800-628-9944.
  • Donate to MARP! Every dollar counts!
  • Visit aqua.org/MARP to find out even more ways that you can help!

MARP Turtles Update: Halloween Enrichment

October has brought a frightful amount of excitement from our staff.

Enrichment, a crucial part of our Marine Animal Rescue Program’s (MARP) rehabilitation of sea turtles, is designed to further engage the animals’ natural behaviors of investigation, foraging and exercise!

Our staff took this opportunity to encourage some Halloween-inspired investigation with our two sea turtle patients. We added spooky window decals to the turtle pools and observed their behavior.

London, our Kemp’s ridley, was initially very curious about the new Jack-O-Lantern and frightening ghost placed on his window, but quickly turned his attention back to his delicious diet of soft-shell crab and shrimp.

Olympian investigated his ghostly crew for more than 20 minutes (with the occasional attempt to bite at them).

In addition to this spook-tacular enrichment update, stay tuned for some additional exciting details about Olympian in the next couple of weeks!


Sign up for AquaMail

Like us on Facebook!

Twitter Updates