Posts Tagged 'new england aquarium'



A Blue View: Sea Turtle Conservation Series

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.

In a two-part interview series with Dr. Kat Hadfield, Associate Veterinarian at National Aquarium, CEO John Racanelli discusses the endangered status of the world’s seven species of sea turtle and how organizations like the Aquarium and working to save them.

February 5, 2013: Sea Turtles and the Challenges They Face

A Blue View podcast

Click here to listen to John and Dr. Hadfield discuss
the challenges facing sea turtle populations worldwide. 

The 33rd Annual International Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation is happening in Baltimore, Maryland, this week. More than 1,000 scientists from 75 different countries are gathering to discuss sea turtle biology, research and conservation, collaborative projects and community-based conservation efforts.

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.

January 31, 2013: A Busy Year for Sea Turtle Rescues

A Blue View podcast

Click here to listen to John and Dr. Hadfield discuss
this extraordinarily busy season of turtle rescues!

In a normal year, the New England Aquarium takes in between 25 and 60 sea turtles. In 2012, that number was more than 200, with an extraordinarily high number of loggerheads (10 times the usual number seen in a year).

Such an influx of rescues caused significant strain on staff and resources, which lead New England Aquarium to reach out for help from other stranding partners. Dr. Kat Hadfield, associate veterinarian at the National Aquarium, was among those who headed to Quincy, Massachusetts, to help. The Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue Program tended to multiple patients from New England until they were ready for release!

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: 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! 

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!

MARP helps with New England turtle crisis

Once again, our Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) has been called on by our aquarium neighbors to the north to help with the rehabilitation of cold-stunned turtles.

The migration season for sea turtles along the Atlantic coast began weeks ago, with the colder water temperatures signaling the animals to make their move to warmer waters. Each year, many sea turtles get caught in the frigid waters of the Northeast before they have a chance to migrate, and end up suffering from a condition known as “cold-stunning.” This condition is the sea turtle equivalent of hypothermia, and causes the turtles to become lethargic, emaciated and immune-suppressed.

The New England Aquarium (NEAq) has already been seeing an unusually high number of stranded sea turtles this season. At the time of this posting, NEAq has received 115 turtles in its rehabilitation center, and is receiving additional turtles at a faster rate than the team can stabilize the cold-stunned turtles and transfer them to other facilities.

As a stranding partner of the National Aquarium, NEAq reached out to us for help with transferring some turtles to Baltimore for long-term rehabilitation.

Transferring stabilized turtles to other facilities will allow NEAq to focus on the turtles in critical condition that are arriving off the beaches. There is a lot of work involved in saving cold-stunned turtles, but the rehabilitation team at NEAq has a very efficient and organized system for triaging and stabilizing the animals. You can read about NEAq’s efforts here.

Our MARP team prepared to help with this huge rehabilitation effort by organizing a transport of five endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles from Boston to Baltimore earlier this week.

On December 2, the turtles were flown from Boston to Baltimore as part of a Civil Air Patrol mission. A huge thanks to pilot Walter Coats and co-pilot Arjang Doorandish for volunteering their time to get the turtles safely to Baltimore.

The turtles, weighing between 2 and 5 pounds, will likely be here in our rehabilitation facility for the next 6-8 months. Our animal care staff will be treating them for conditions such as pneumonia, emaciation and secondary blood infections.

Stay tuned for updates from our MARP team as we begin the long-term rehabilitation process.

Throughout the year, MARP works around the clock to help sick and injured animals get back on their flippers or fins. But these animals need your help. Food, medicine and equipment can cost up to $200 per day for one animal. This holiday season, think about a gift to MARP. Your donation will enable us to keep providing life saving medical treatment to some of the world’s most treasured animals.

Aquarium birds support the Ravens!

The other birds in Baltimore have sent a special message to New England:

And some harbor seals at the New England Aquarium sent one back to Baltimore!


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