National Aquarium Animal Rescue helps with New England turtle crisis

Published December 08, 2010

Once again, our Animal Rescue team 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 Animal Rescue 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 Animal Rescue team as we begin the long-term rehabilitation process.

Throughout the year, the National Aquarium Animal Rescue team 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 National Aquarium Animal Rescue. Your donation will enable us to keep providing life saving medical treatment to some of the world’s most treasured animals.

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