Posts Tagged 'south carolina aquarium'

Thoughtful Thursdays: Collaborative Conservation Efforts In the Name of Sea Turtles!

Animal Rescue Update

Staff with the National Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) recently returned from a several-day road trip adventure named ‘Sea Turtle Trek’ to transport and release 52 endangered sea turtles off the Florida coast. National Aquarium joined staff from the New England Aquarium to transport the precious cargo from both of our facilities and several of our regional stranding partners, including University of New England Marine Animal Rehabilitation Center, National Marine Life Center, Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, Virginia Aquarium, South Carolina Aquarium.

The turtles that were transported for release had stranded during the record-breaking 2012 cold-stun season and were treated at the rehabilitation facilities mentioned above.

The overall transport began around 5 am on Saturday, April 6th in Biddeford, Maine and finally arrived to the release beach just north of Jacksonville, Florida around 9:30 am on Sunday, April 7. During the transport, we stopped several times to meet our partners and pick up additional turtles.

By the last stop to meet the South Carolina Aquarium, the transport staff were challenged to make all of the transport boxes fit safely into the four Chevrolet Suburban’s – it was like a big game of Tetris at 5 am!

By the last stop to meet the South Carolina Aquarium, the transport staff were challenged to make all of the transport boxes fit safely into the four Chevrolet Suburban’s – it was like a big game of Tetris at 5 am!

The turtles rode in a climate controlled environment, and were monitored by biologists from both transporting facilities. Since turtles have all the same bodily functions as every other animal, the staff were relieved to stop for short breaks every few hours and catch some fresh air.

After arriving to the release location, the turtles were unloaded from the vehicles to adjust to the sunlight and warm Florida weather. Staff massaged the turtles’ muscles to combat possible muscle fatigue, and many of the turtles became quite active in their transport crates. Finally, the turtles were lined up on the beach by facility and released in groups.

SeaTurtleTrek release

It’s always interesting to see all the individual personalities of the turtles – some turtles take off for the water as quickly as possible and don’t look back, while others need a little more coaxing.

seaturtletrek team

Turtle releases are always a cause for celebration, and this one was no exception. Staff gathered for lots of photos with the turtles, and several group photos after the releases.

Staff then celebrated with a much needed lunch on the water near the release location, where there were lots of smiles and sharing of photos from the release. By 4pm we were back on the road again and headed north to our overnight location of Jekyll Island, GA. Our friends at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center were gracious enough to let us use their facility to accomplish our final task of the day –cleaning transport crates. The team came together to wash, disinfect, and dry 52 transport crates in just under 40 minutes. By the time the vehicles were packed up with clean crates, we were ready for showers, some dinner, and lots of sleep!

52 clean transport crates_PC NEAq

Photo via New England Aquarium

After breakfast the following morning, we took a short walk on Driftwood Beach at Jekyll Island – the beach there is amazing, and a photographers dream. After the walk, we returned to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center to meet with our colleagues, tour the facility, and listen to a lecture from Dr. Terry Norton. After visiting the gift shop and saying good-bye to the wonderful staff at Georgia Sea Turtle Center, it was time to travel north once again and head home.

Driftwood Beach

This collaborative transport and release event is a true testament as to how stranding and conservation organizations work together to accomplish a common goal. We collectively responded to a record cold-stun season by bringing staff, resources, and facilities together to save as many endangered sea turtles as possible. The staff commitment from all these facilities is never in question – whether it’s providing animal care on holidays, responding to stranding events at moment’s notice, or traveling the entire East coast to transport and release turtles – we’re in it together!

Blog-Header-JennDittmar

#SeaTurtleTrek Update – Back to the Big Blue!

The #SeaTurtleTrek release was a great success! 

After leaving Baltimore last night and driving through the night, our team and staff from New England Aquarium made it to the beach in Florida with 52 endangered sea turtles.

Welcome to Florida

Upon their arrival in Jacksonville, health samples were taken from each turtle.

Soon, it was time for the big beach release! The turtles were released by group in the following order: South Carolina Aquarium, Virginia Aquarium, Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, National Marine Life Center, University of New England, National Aquarium and finally, New England Aquarium!

Thanks to everyone for the messages of support over the last few days, they meant a lot to the whole trek team!

#SeaTurtleTrek Update – Now With Even More Turtles!

It was a busy night for our #SeaTurtleTrek-kers!

After leaving Baltimore last night, the caravan had two more stops to make before finally heading onto Florida for the big release!

The first stop at Virginia Aquarium happened around midnight. Staff from Virginia Aquarium were on hand to transfer even more precious cargo into the cars.

Late night pick-up at Virginia Aquarium. Photo via Jenn Dittmar

Late night pick-up at Virginia Aquarium. Photo via Jenn Dittmar

After the turtles were loaded up in Virginia, the team continued on (driving through the night) until they reached South Carolina Aquarium early this morning to gather the remaining turtles ready for release!

The caravan continued on straight through South Carolina and Georgia! They’re now pretty close to the release site in Jacksonville, Florida. Upon arrival in Florida, they will be doing health samples on each of the turtles and then it will FINALLY be time for release!

Stay tuned for more updates from this morning’s release! 

#SeaTurtleTrek Update – And They’re Off!

The team from New England Aquarium arrived in Baltimore this evening ready to pick up our rehabilitated sea turtles and journey onto Florida for release!

Chet, a Kemp's ridley turtle, is ready to go on his adventure!

Chet, a Kemp’s ridley turtle, is ready to go on his adventure!

As we continue to travel down the East Coast, more turtles from our organization partners are being slated for release! Our teams will be making additional stops at Virginia Aquarium and South Carolina Aquarium to pick up additional turtles.

Members of our MARP team prepping Biff, a green sea turtle, for the trip!

Members of our MARP team prepping Biff, a green sea turtle, for the trip!

Prior to New England’s arrival, our Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) team did final examinations of each turtle, placed them in their respective transport crates and covered them in a water-based lubricant to keep the turtles happy and feeling good during the 1,200 mile trek down to Jacksonville, Florida.

Once the crew from New England Aquarium arrived, our team quickly packed up the turtles and hit the road!

Once the crew from New England Aquarium arrived, our team quickly packed up the turtles and hit the road!

Want to see where the team is on their journey? Follow their live updates on Twitter, Google Plus, Tumblr and Instagram using #SeaTurtleTrek  and/or check out this satellite map that’s tracking their progress:

Click on this map to pull up the trek's current geo-location!

Click on this map to pull up the trek’s current geo-location!

Stay tuned for more #SeaTurtleTrek updates from the road! 

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!

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