Posts Tagged 'sea turtle'

Turtle Tuesday: An MRI Scan For Blade

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Participating in the rehabilitation of endangered sea turtles is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job. As you probably already know, the National Aquarium is part of a stranding response network that encompasses the North East region of the United States. Many of the turtles we handle initially are found as “cold stunned” along Cape Cod beaches in Massachusetts.

New England Aquarium stabilizes animals and rehabilitates many, but often reaches out to partner organizations such as us for assistance. This was the case for one of the animals currently in our care, Blade, who came to us last December.

national aquarium animal rescue blade

Blade initially had a large fracture of the upper and lower shell (carapace and plastron) that healed nicely over the first two months of rehabilitation. After initially improving, Blade started to decline significantly in mid-February. Diagnostics showed he was septic (systemic bacterial infection) with a resistant strain of Enterococcus bacteria.

His front flipper digit joints began to swell and it appeared he had bacterial infections developing in them and he stopped using his front limbs. This is very rare in sea turtles; normally digit infections don’t impact their swimming ability.

Radiographs and a CT scan showed the shoulder joints were infected as well. Biopsy and cultures confirmed the joint infection was due to the same bacteria found in the blood.

national aquarium animal rescue blade

After aggressive antibiotic therapy and general supportive care, we were able to resolve the sepsis and distal limb infections and he showed some improvement in strength, but remained unusually quiet and weak and refused to use the front limbs. A physical therapy program was started to improve limb motion.

In order to check for bacterial abscesses in his organs and brain, we took Blade for an MRI scan at Veterinary Imaging of the Chesapeake. There were was no evidence of organ or brain abscesses found on MRI, although the shoulder joints were abnormal, as expected.

**Photos courtesy of Red Leash Photography

In the last month, Blade has continued to improve clinically and we are planning to do an arthroscopy to remove abnormal and potentially infected tissue from the shoulder joints. Our ultimate goal is to get Blade to a point where we can be released.

Stay tuned for more updates on Blade as his rehabilitation continues!

national aquarium Leigh Clayton

Join Us in Welcoming Brownie, our Loggerhead Turtle, to Baltimore!

Earlier today, our Baltimore facility welcomed loggerhead turtle, Brownie, from Washington, DC! Brownie’s transport, in addition to the 17 other animals that successfully made their way to our Animal Care Center, marked the 12th day of animal moves from our DC facility to the Aquarium’s main campus in Baltimore.

loggerhead turtle transport national aquarium

After transport and a brief observation period, Brownie was introduced into our Maryland: Mountains to the Sea exhibit!

About Brownie: 

Named for it’s sweet personality and love of food, Brownie is part of the Loggerhead Head Start Program. Run by the North Carolina Aquarium in Pine Knoll, this program gives baby sea turtles a better chance at survival in the wild. Sea turtle hatchlings spend time in aquariums where they can safely grow. After being given a clean bill of health and an extra boost of nutrition, they are tagged and released back to the ocean!

Once Brownie meets the proper weight/size criteria, it will be taken back to North Carolina to be released.

Animal Rescue Update: Loggerhead Patient, Niagra, Has Been Released!

national aquarium Animal Rescue Update

Niagara, a rescued Loggerhead sea turtle, was admitted for rehabilitation to the National Aquarium from the Virginia Aquarium, after accidentally being hooked by a fisherman.

loggerhead sea turtle

Niagara was lucky to suffer only minor injuries from the hook, however he also suffered from an old boat strike injury that caused a shell fracture. While in rehabilitation at National Aquarium, Animal Health staff assessed the condition of the old fracture and provided some basic wound care to allow the fractured area to heal and stabilize on its own.

After only six weeks in rehab, Niagara was successfully released today from Assateague State Park, where a small crowd gathered to bid him farewell.

Stay tuned for updates on the other two loggerheads we currently have in rehabilitation!

jenn dittmar national aquarium animal rescue

Turtle Tuesday: She’s Baaaaaacck!

Today marked another important milestone for our Aquarium family as we introduced the first animal, our 500+ pound green sea turtle Calypso, into our Blacktip Reef exhibit!

Calypso's introduction to Blacktip Reef

After a “mini-vacation” behind-the-scenes while our central exhibit space was being transformed into a vibrant Indo-Pacific reef, Calypso was excited to explore her new home.

 A little bit about Calypso

After stranding off the shore of Long Island, New York, in 2000, a juvenile green sea turtle (only weighing about 6 pounds at the time) was transported to our Animal Care Center for rehabilitation in 2002. At the time of her rescue, Calypso’s left-front flipper had a severe infection, which required amputation. Because of her amputation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) deemed Calypso “non-releasable.” She’s been a beloved member of our Aquarium family ever since!

We’re excited for Calypso to continue to explore her new digs and meet the neighbors, as we introduce hundreds of animals into Blacktip Reef over the next month!

Stay tuned for more updates as our newest exhibit continues to come to life!

Amazing Experience Sweepstakes Winners Meet Our Loggerhead!

In December of 2012, as part of our Amazing Experiences Sweepstakes, Darren Brooks from Williamsburg, Virginia won the chance to go behind-the-scenes and meet our baby loggerhead turtle at National Aquarium, Washington, DC!

Meet our baby loggerhead turtle, Brownie!

Our baby loggerhead turtle!

Recently, Darren and his family came on-site to meet our loggerhead, learn a bit more about the species and give the little one a name! After observing our baby sea turtle on exhibit, everyone went behind-the-scenes to actually meet the turtle and learn a bit more about him from our Aquarist Dana. Darren and his fiancee Denise decided to name the loggerhead ‘Brownie,’ after it’s sweet personality and love of food!

During their meet and greet with Brownie, Darren and his family also had the opportunity to learn a little bit more about our participation in the Loggerhead Head Start Program. Run by the North Carolina Aquarium in Pine Knoll, this program gives baby sea turtles a better chance at survival in the wild. Sea turtle hatchlings found stranded far from the ocean, spend time in aquariums where they can safely grow. After being given a clean bill of health and an extra boost of nutrition, they are tagged and released back to the ocean!

Brownie will spend two years at National Aquarium and then released off the coast of North Carolina!

Stay tuned for more stories on our Amazing Experience Sweepstakes winners!

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?

Anna the loggerhead turtle goes home

We’re happy to announce that the loggerhead turtle that was admitted to the National Aquarium for rehabilitation late this summer was released this week!

The Ocean City Beach Patrol officer who saved her and carried her to shore—on a boogie board!—had the honor of naming her, and he chose “Anna.” MARP staff is amazed at how far this turtle has come in just a few months. When she arrived, she was severely emaciated and covered with a heavy barnacle load, and could barely swim. Now she’s a healthy, active turtle with a big appetite!

Staff from the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program released Anna, along with a loggerhead that underwent rehab there and four yearling head-start loggerheads from the Virginia Aquarium. All the turtles were released from a vessel off the coast of North Carolina, where water temperatures are warm enough this time of year to support sea turtles.

This is a great example of how aquariums and stranding response facilities work together to attain common goals and give sick and injured animals a second chance at life. A big thanks to MARP volunteers and our partners at the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program!

MARP depends on the generosity of volunteers to operate, but medical equipment, medications, and food for caring for these animals is expensive. Your gift makes it possible to continue this important work.  Donate to MARP »


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