Posts Tagged 'sea turtle rescue'

Turtle Tuesday: Three Animal Rescue Patients Ready for Release

national aquarium Animal Rescue Update

We are happy to share that three (Charlie, Maverick and Tombstone) of our remaining 6 sea turtle patients are ready for release!

In the past two weeks, these turtles have successfully come off their antibiotic treatments and have a clean bill of health from our veterinary staff! As typical with every release, we’re in the process of scheduling exit examinations, so that each turtle patient can be properly tagged for release later this month!

sea turtle tag

An example of one of the tags used to track some of our released sea turtle patients.

The patients still in-house receiving treatment are Cougar, Blade and Iceman.  Our team is currently trying to manage the ongoing shoulder joint injuries both Cougar and Blade presented with at the time of admittance.

Just yesterday, Cougar traveled to Annapolis with our Animal Health team for an arthroscopy procedure. Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure in which an examination is performed using an endoscope inserted into the joint through a small incision.  This procedure allows our veterinarians to better assess the full scope of damages to the area for a better outlook on treatment options.

Cougar is back and resting in his pool with his tank-mate Blade, who is having the same difficulties with his forelimb joints.  Our husbandry staff and team of veterinarians are developing plans for both of these Kemp’s ridley sea turtles so that we can get them back on track and healing properly.

national aquarium animal rescue blade

Blade

Iceman is still receiving treatment for some plastron shell abrasions.  Our team was able to remove infected tissue from the areas a last week so that his abrasions could heal properly.

Stay tuned for more updates on our remaining patients, and as always, thank you for supporting our work!

national aquarium animal rescue expert

We’re Ready to Release Our 100th Animal!

Animal Rescue Update

The 2012 cold-stun season for sea turtles in New England broke records. National Aquarium’s Animal Rescue team helped out our colleagues at the New England Aquarium by admitting 13 sea turtles for rehabilitation last December. We transported several turtles to Florida for long-term rehab and release in January, and several more for release to Florida in April.

We currently have four remaining turtles in our rehab center: two Kemp’s Ridleys (Duckie and Bender), a green (Willard), and a loggerhead (Rooney). We are very excited to announce that three of the four turtles are ready for release!

Any release is a cause for celebration, but this release is extra special, as we’ll be celebrating the release of our 100th animal! Actually, Duckie, Bender and Willard will represent our 100, 101 and 102 animals released! Since 1991, National Aquarium Animal Rescue has been responding to stranded marine mammals and sea turtles found along the Delmarva Peninsula (which encompasses Delaware, Maryland and Virginia).

In the last twenty years, our team has cared, rescued, treated and released a variety of species to their natural habitats, including: seals; sea turtles; rough-toothed dolphins; a harbor porpoise; a pygmy sperm whale; and a manatee. Each of these animals has an incredible story, and there is no better triumph than returning a healthy animal to the wild! You can read some of these stories on our website.

We’re excited to announce that our 100th release will be open to the public. Find out more details below:

National Aquarium 100th Rescue Animal Release

When: 
Saturday, June 22
4:00 pm EST

Where:
Point Lookout State Park in Scotland, MD
The release will occur at the Swimming Beach
Normal park entrance fees will apply

What: 
Join our National Aquarium Animal Rescue team as we release three turtles: two Kemp’s Ridley’s (Duckie and Bender) and a green (Willard).

Staff from the National Marine Life Center will also be on-site to release four rehabilitated sea turtles!

Sea turtles utilize the Chesapeake Bay as a source of food during the summer months. The two Kemp’s ridley’s and the green sea turtle that we will release this Saturday will likely remain within the Bay for the rest of the summer before migrating south in the fall. The loggerhead will remain in rehabilitation for long-term treatment of a chronic medical issue and will be released at a later date.

We hope you can join us to say farewell to Duckie, Bender, and Willard!

If you’re not able to join us on the beach, be sure to follow me on Twitter  for live updates, and leave your well-wishes for the trio in the comments below.

Blog-Header-JennDittmar

Thoughtful Thursdays: Endangered Species Spotlight on Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles

Endangered Species Day, celebrated on May 17th, was established to raise awareness of the issues (both human-related and ecological) facing endangered species and their habitats. 

To help further amplify this day, we’ll be highlighting some endangered species that can be found in our home state of Maryland, at the National Aquarium and around the world! Our hope is that as this week progresses, others will feel inspired to help us protect these amazing animals! 

Animal Rescue Update

Kemp’s ridley Lepidochelys kempii sea turtles are the smallest of all the sea turtle species and are listed as “critically endangered” by the IUCN. “Small” is a relative term for sea turtles, as the Kemp’s can weigh as much as 80 to 100 pounds as adults, and their shell can grow to about 2 feet long. Their carapace (top shell) is usually heart-shaped and brown to grey in color.

kemp's ridley

A rehabilitated Kemp’s ridley turtle being released by National Aquarium staff.

Kemp’s ridley’s are highly migratory and seasonal visitors to Maryland waters. They can often be found in coastal areas, including the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic coast, from late May to October. While here, they feed on an assortment of crabs, shellfish and jellies, and will occasionally munch on seaweed. Cooler water temperatures in the fall signal the turtles to migrate south – reptiles are ectothermic, meaning their internal body temperature is dependent on the water temperature.

kemp's ridley

One of our current rehabilitation patients munching on a blue crab.

Along the northeast and mid-Atlantic in late fall and early winter, Kemp’s can become victims of cold-stunning. Cold-stunning is effectively hypothermia (low body temperature), which causes the turtles to stop eating and ultimately become severely sick. The 2012 cold-stun season was a record for the northeast. We currently have two Kemp’s ridley sea turtles in rehabilitation with our National Aquarium Animal Rescue team, and both were admitted as cold-stuns.

kemp's ridley

Since being listed as an Endangered Species in 1994, the US and Mexico have worked cooperatively to protect critical nesting habitats for the Kemp’s, resulting in an increase in successful nesting and hatching. Kemp’s still face many threats, though, many of which are human-related. The good news is that YOU can help protect Kemp’s ridley sea turtle populations!

Stay tuned for more features on endangered species this week! 

Blog-Header-JennDittmar

Visit Charm City Run THIS Saturday and Support MARP!

Need some new kicks to wear to our next conservation event? What about new running accessories so you can hit the city streets and running trails in style?

Visit our friends at Charm City Run in Locust Point THIS Saturday, February 16! Charm City Run is donating 10 percent of all proceeds from that day to our Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP).

Deirdre feeding MARP turtles
Deirdre Weadock of Charm City Run visited our Animal Care Center last week to help care for our current turtle patients. This was not Deirdre’s first visit to the Animal Care Center; from 2005 to 2011, she was a senior dolphin trainer at the Aquarium!

Since 1991, MARP has rescued, treated, and released nearly 100 animals to their natural habitats, including seals, sea turtles, dolphins, a harbor porpoise, a pygmy sperm whale, and a manatee.

At National Aquarium, sea turtles are the most common patients in our Animal Care Center. All sea turtles in U.S. waters are listed as endangered species, and often face dangers such as cold stunning and injury from boat propellers. The turtles currently being rehabilitated by staff came from New England and are being treated for cold-stunning and pneumonia.

green sea turtle

2012 was a historic year for sea turtle rescue along the Northeast coast. Typically, the New England Aquarium rescues 25 to 60 sea turtles per year; however, last year that number grew to more than 200 rescued turtles. After receiving such a sudden influx in just one month, the New England Aquarium reached out to our rescue program for help. We are currently rehabilitating 8 of these sea turtles, with full recovery expected to take 5 to 6 months or longer. Day-to-day care includes multiple feedings daily, medical treatments, veterinarian procedures and enrichment exercises!

With a historic influx of patients to the Animal Care Center this year, we are so grateful to Charm City Run for supporting MARP in their effort to save these injured sea turtles.

Make sure to stop by Charm City Run in Locust Point on Saturday for all of your running footwear, apparel, and accessories…and to support a great cause! 

Thoughtful Thursdays: Inspiring Conservation in Future Generations

This week, National Aquarium is co-hosting the 33rd annual International Sea Turtle Symposium, which has brought together more than 1,000 scientists and conservationists from over 75 countries to discuss collaborative efforts to save all seven species of endangered sea turtle.

Currently, turtle populations worldwide are in dramatic decline due to issues like habitat destruction, cold-stunning, debris entanglement, incidental capture in commercial and recreational fishing.  The symposium is a tool to share knowledge and encourage discussion around sea turtles in our local community and how we create and/or affect these issues. This meeting provides Baltimore and the state of Maryland with a rare opportunity to participate in an international dialogue and gain exposure to new pathways in conservation science.

As part of our co-hosting duties, symposium participants were invited to visit the Aquarium for a Welcome Social earlier this week.

General Curator Jack Cover was on hand during the Aquarium’s “Welcome Social” for symposium participants to talk about the many species of turtle we have in our collection.

The theme of the symposium is “connections” and throughout the week, they hope to create connections not only with fellow researchers and conference attendees but also with the community and local students.

To encourage involvement, the symposium is 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.

The art contest in particular is a powerful way to reach students and encourage them to express their love for sea turtles. Further, it presents an innovative avenue to reinforce the community’s need to respect and save these majestic creatures. Each school submitted art pieces in the hopes of winning an opportunity to learn more about the importance of turtles at special expert Q&A sessions at the symposium. The following local schools have their art featured at the symposium:

  • St. Demetrius Bilingual Day School
  • Poolesville High School
  • South River High School
  • Furman Templeton Prep
  • Dr. Rayner Browne Academy
  • Friends Meeting School

One local school in particular, St. Demetrius Bilingual Day School, took this art project a step further! Students did a month-long science unit on sea turtles leading up to the week of the event. During their visit to the symposium, students had lunch with biologists and conservationists and even took a trip to the Aquarium!

After learning even more about sea turtles, 4th and 5th grade classes at St. Demetrius were inspired to actually adopt a turtle at the Aquarium through our Aquadopt program!

Want to learn more about the dialogue happening at the symposium or the Aquarium’s efforts to save sea turtles? Leave us your questions in the comments section!

You can also join the conservation on Twitter (for symposium-specific news, follow the hashtags #ISTS33 and #ISTS2013).

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!

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! 


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