Animal Rescue Update: Cold-Stunned Turtles Released

Published June 24, 2014

by Jenn Dittmar, Manager of National Aquarium Animal Rescue

On June 21st, the National Aquarium and the National Marine Life Center jointly released sea turtles from this year’s cold-stun season!

turtle release 

Throughout their stay with the National Aquarium, each of the turtles we released had a different reason for being in rehabilitation, and a different path to recovery.


Let’s take a closer look at Maverick, Charlie, and Tombstone:

Maverick was one of the season’s first Kemp’s ridley patients in November 2013.  He was a cold-stun off of the New Jersey coastline.  Upon arrival here in Baltimore, our husbandry and veterinary staff put Maverick on antibiotics and monitored a shell fracture that we found under all of the algae on his carapace (top part of the shell).

maverick
After just a couple months, the fracture was starting to stabilize and rejoin at the base of the carapace.  At an entry weight of 1.04kg, we are proud to say that Maverick has put on weight and is currently 2.58kg, eating about 38g of capelin, blue crabs, squid, and shrimp per day.

Charlie, also a Kemp’s ridley, was one of the more intensive cases for our team this year. During his initial exams here in Baltimore, we discovered a small mass near Charlie’s heart. At the time we found the mass, Charlie had also begun to refuse food, and became increasingly lethargic. Husbandry and Veterinary staff put all of their effort into finding out why this mass had developed and how to treat it.

charlie

We started an innovative form of baby aspirin therapy, and the mass started to decrease in size. Earlier this month, our vet staff cleared Charlie for release. We could not be more proud of how far he has come!

Tombstone, who joined our ranks from Cape Cod, presented an interesting housing situation for our team. Tombstone started his rehabilitation with two other pool-mates, and staff noticed that he would float at the surface of the water, another turtle would take the midline of water, and the third would rest and eat along the bottom.  To ensure that the turtles are able to forage and swim properly out in the wild, we didn’t want to further encourage floating at the surface, so we transferred Tombstone to a separate pool by himself.
tombstone

Between battling the current and chasing food, he finally learned to dive to the bottom and look more comfortable in the water, exhibiting more normal behaviors!

Stay tuned for more updates on our remaining sea turtle patients! 




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Jenn Dittmar

Manager of National Aquarium Animal Rescue

National Aquarium - Jen Dittmar

About Jenn Dittmar

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Expert Jenn Dittmar Talks Turtle Rehabilitation

Jennifer Dittmar

National Geographic speaks with our Animal Rescue Manager about the challenges of rehabilitating sick and injured sea turtles. Read More


When you make a generous gift to the National Aquarium you are directly impacting our programs, like Animal Rescue that are giving threatened and endangered species a second chance at life.

  • With a gift of $25 you will feed a turtle in rehab for a month
  • With a gift of $50 you will feed a rescued seal, like Lily, for a month
  • With a gift of $100 you can support the National Aquarium’s release efforts, as we return these rescued animals back to their natural habitats.

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