Posts Tagged 'sea turtle rescue'



Thoughtful Thursday: Top 12 Conservation Moments of 2012

As 2012 winds down, we are taking a look at all of the amazing things our dedicated team of staff and volunteers and like-minded conservationists were able to accomplish this year! From a full year of marine animal rescue and rehabilitation to important state and federal legislation, this year has given us hope for the future of our amazing blue planet.

For our last Thoughtful Thursday of 2012, we’re giving you our top 12 conservation moments of 2012:

Banner Bags

Every year, the Aquarium’s new marketing campaign requires updated signage, including vinyl banners to adorn our building and our respective cities. Reluctant to simply throw these materials away, our International Conservation Committee decided to transform these old banners into reusable tote bags! The project has been so popular with our own staff members, we’re having trouble keeping them on the shelves of our gift shop! This project is reflective of the Aquarium’s constant efforts to repurpose, reuse, and recycle materials.

Banner bags

International Coastal Cleanup at Ft. McHenry

National Aquarium has long been engaged in the restoration of our community’s coastal regions. In recent years, we have been focusing our efforts on regions like Fort McHenry, where volunteers and staff have removed more than 500,000 pieces of marine debris. This year, as part of  Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, our Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!) joined hundreds of thousands of volunteers cleaning and restoring both coasts. Preserving our region is not only critical for the marine ecosystems, but these wetlands also help to teach students the importance of local wildlife and habitat restoration.
fort mchenry before and after

5gyres “Last Straw Plastic Pollution” Bike Tour

This year, we were fortunate to have the 5gyres team visit both our Washington, DC, and Baltimore venues to share their incredible story with the public and National Aquarium staff. A conservation organization focused on raising awareness of the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” 5gyres biked 1,400 miles down the Atlantic coast to spread the word about marine debris and what we can do to clean it.

Dolphin Count

This summer marked another great year in Atlantic dolphin population monitoring. Our Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) team and more than 100 volunteers made the annual trip to Ocean City in July to record dolphin sightings, an important indicator of reproduction rates and ocean health. This year’s count of 37 was surprisingly low in comparison to 2011’s 107, likely a result of weather, unusual swells, and prey availability.

Dolphins spotted off the coast of Ocean City. Credit: John Soule

Dolphins spotted off the coast of Ocean City. Credit: John Soule

RBC Blue Water Project Leadership Grant

We were humbled and grateful to receive RBC’s support for our Chesapeake Bay Initiative (CBI). Thanks to this $130,000 grant, the largest ever received from a corporation specifically designated for conservation efforts, our program will continue to engage others in protecting and restoring the habitats throughout the Chesapeake watershed. Wetlands in the Chesapeake Bay are being lost at an alarming rate as a result of coastal development, rising sea levels, and damage from non-native species.

CBI helps restore and protect wetland habitats, increasing public awareness of watershed issues and providing watershed stewardship actions for citizen volunteers, youth, and community groups.

Rescued Loggerhead Hatchling

In the week leading up to Hurricane Sandy, our MARP team was surveying the north end of the Assateague Island National Seashore. They discovered a sea turtle nest that had been incubating in the sand since late July – this was the first confirmed viable sea turtle nest ever seen in the area. Considering the incoming high winds and waves from Sandy, our team excavated the nest and one live hatchling for incubation at our Animal Care Center. Our team was able to care for the hatchling and after six weeks, it was transported to North Carolina for release!

baby loggerhead turtle

Baby loggerhead turtle hatchling and egg.

Maryland Green Travel

We were so proud to be named the first attraction to become part of Maryland’s Green Travel program. This statewide program recognizes tourism businesses committed to reducing their environmental impact. The program encourages environmentally friendly practices in all aspects of the state’s tourism industry and promotes Maryland as a green destination for the eco-minded traveler.

Floating Wetlands

In late spring, National Aquarium staff joined its partners from the Waterfront Partnership Baltimore, Biohabitats, Living Classrooms Foundation, Blue Water Baltimore, and Irvine Nature Center to launch another 2,000 square feet of floating wetlands into Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. This project is part of the Healthy Harbor Initiative, a regional effort to make the harbor swimmable and fishable by 2020.

Wetlands installed in their new home

Wetlands installed in their new home.

40th Anniversary of Clean Water Act

This year marked the 40th anniversary of the federal Water Pollution Control Act – the nation’s first law for protecting our most precious, irreplaceable resource. Arguably, no environmental legislation has had as much of an influence on our daily lives and health. Thanks to the Clean Water Act, huge strides have been made to protect our health and the health of the environment.

Shoreline Restoration at Indian Head

ACT! spent most of June and October at the Naval Support Facility (NSF) Indian Head and Stump Neck Annex (Indian Head, MD). Volunteers planted 45,897 native wetland grasses along the Potomac River, restoring more than 4,000 feet of shoreline! The Aquarium has partnered with NSF Indian Head since 2008, restoring sections of shoreline each year.

Our Commitment to End Shark Finning

National Aquarium, along with our partners at the Humane Society, Oceana, and the National Wildlife Federation, has been a leading supporter of legislation in Maryland to hinder the market for shark fins by prohibiting their possession and sale. Similar to making the trade of elephant ivory illegal, such legislation would ensure that shark finning and unsustainable fishing practices are not tolerated. We hope that 2013 will see an international commitment to protect these amazing animals.

Our research team tags sharks off the coast of Ocean City every year to gather data on migration and abundance!

Our research team tags sharks off the coast of Ocean City every year to gather data on migration and abundance.

Menhaden – A Big Step Forward for Little Fish

Earlier this month, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission made history by voting to limit the catch of this crucial species of fish, the menhaden, by 20 percent. Commonly referred to as “the most important fish in the sea,” menhaden serves as a critical food source for much of the wildlife in the Atlantic’s marine ecosystems. By putting a catch limit on these fish, the ASMFC gave conservationists hope that enough fish can stay in the water to fulfill their ecological role.

Although it is important to take the time to celebrate 2012’s accomplishments, we know there is still much work to be done to preserve and protect our oceans and our planet. We hope you’ll join our efforts in the new year! To find out how to get involved, visit aqua.org/care.

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! 

Celebrate Giving Tuesday by Helping Us Achieve Our Conservation Mission!

This year, nonprofit organizations from across the country came together to establish a day for giving back, Giving Tuesday.

With the holiday season becoming more and more associated with deal days like “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday”, #GivingTuesday presents the opportunity for nonprofits worldwide to encourage charitable giving, volunteerism and conscious consumerism. It’s also the perfect day to donate to your favorite nonprofit! We have a day dedicated to giving thanks and two for getting deals…why not have one day to help support our favorite nonprofit organizations?

That’s how the first #GivingTuesday, today Nov. 27, got its start.

So today, we hope you’ll consider helping us achieve our mission to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures by supporting our Marine Animal Rescue team in any of the following ways:

Make a donation to our Marine Animal Rescue Program  (MARP)

Every year, thousands of sea turtles, dolphins, whales, seals and manatees become sick or injured, often due to human-related reasons. Our MARP team 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. MARP depends on the generosity of volunteers to operate and care for these animals, plus medical equipment, medication, food and other expenses associated with caring for these animals really adds up quickly. 

loggerhead turtle hatchling

Rescued loggerhead turtle

YOU can help us help animals in need!

Where does your donation go? 

By donating just $25 to MARP, you will also be entered into our Amazing Experiences Sweepstakes

More comfortable donating much-need items? You can still help MARP by gifting some of the things on their wishlist this year!

  • All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV)
  • DOT helmets (assorted sizes, new or gently used)
  • UHF radio repeater
  • USB flash drives
  • Fun holiday window decals or water animal decals
  • New or gently used kitchen knives

Your contribution makes it possible to continue our important work and will help give threatened and endangered species a second chance at life!

Are you participating in #givingTuesday? If so, tell us how in the comments and on Twitter

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!

MARP Turtles Update

Greetings from the sea turtle rehab area!

Our veterinary and husbandry staff have been working hard to make sure our two turtle residents, London and Olympian, are receiving the best care during their stay here at National Aquarium. When we first introduced you all to London, a Kemp’s ridley, and Olympian, a green sea turtle, they had just arrived to our care center and we had just identified their injuries.  These two turtles have come quite a long way since their arrival from New Jersey!

London has been receiving daily wound treatments and antibiotics.  His wounds, although healing at a slow pace, are healing properly.  We’ve also seen an increase in his diet –  he is now eating 75 grams of food per day, including shrimp, squid and soft-shell crab.  London spends a good bit of time “hiding” in his pool, but don’t worry, this is a natural behavior. Our team has given him large half-moon cuts of thick PVC so that he can find shelter.  When he is not swimming and diving, that is where you can find him.

London has been taking it easy since he arrived

Olympian, who came to us with buoyancy problems, was found to have hyper-inflated lungs which could have attributed to the difficulty diving.  However, upon arrival one morning to feed the turtles, our staff found Olympian resting on the bottom of the pool! He had no problems diving to the bottom for food throughout the rest of the day and his diving continues to improve daily! Olympian is almost never found resting now that he knows he can dive again.

Olympian is starting to explore his surroundings more now that buoyancy is no longer an issue

Olympian’s appetite is keeping us on our toes! He’s currently consuming 117 grams of food per day, including lettuce, brussels sprouts, green peppers, shrimp, squid and soft-shell crab.

Olympian has us on our toes now that he can freely dive and swim about!

We’re happy to report that these turtles continue to improve every day. Look out for more updates from our team soon right here on our WATERblog!

A special delivery for MARP

MARP staff and volunteers have had a busy start to the new year after receiving three injured sea turtles from the New England Aquarium in mid-December. Due to extremely cold water temperatures in the New England region, the New England Aquarium rescued more than 100 sea turtles from local beaches in December alone, many on the brink of death due to cold-stunning.

Even though the New England Aquarium is known for its exceptional rehabilitation of sea turtles, that’s a lot of turtles for one Aquarium to handle. As some of the turtles began to stabilize, the New England Aquarium called on other facilities to help with the long-term rehabilitation process. Our MARP team was happy to help!

Our new patients were transported to Baltimore the week before Christmas, bundled in Chiquita banana boxes!

All three are Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, which is the most common sea turtle species seen in the New England area. Kemp’s are considered one of the most endangered sea turtles in the world. There are around 20,000 individuals, with 8,000 nesting females. As you can see from the picture below, upon arrival the turtles were pretty beaten up due to being tossed around in the waves and against rocks.

The turtles seem to be adjusting well to their new habitat. They are eating on a normal schedule and becoming more active with each day. These are signs that the turtles are on their way to a successful rehabilitation.


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