A loggerhead sea turtle was found floating off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, on November 8. Suffering from injuries, lethargy, and mild cold-stun, he was sent to the New England Aquarium rehabilitation facility. Later named McFly, after Marty McFly from Back to the Future, this loggerhead not only had a low body temperature of 60 degrees, but he had a right front flipper amputation likely due to a boat strike that occurred in the wild prior to his cold-stun. He also had carapace (or shell) lacerations, erosion in the keratin of his shell that went down to the bone, and a superficial wound on his head. McFly was then transferred to the National Aquarium’s Animal Care Center in Baltimore, Maryland, for further care.
The National Aquarium Animal Rescue team transported him back to our facility on November 19. Animal Rescue staff put McFly on a get-healthy regimen that included treating his wounds, radiographs and blood analysis to make sure his bones were still OK on his amputated side, and evaluations to ensure his lungs were healthy after being cold-stunned (cold-stunned turtles often struggle with respiratory infections). He was also given regular ceftazidime injections, an antibiotic treatment for his open wounds.
Once McFly started feeling better and regaining his strength, he proved to be feisty addition to the Animal Care Center. His appetite quickly picked up, and he was eating about 1 pound of food per day, which meant lots of shrimp, squid, blue crab, and capelin. With this diet, McFly gained 7 pounds. McFly was deemed ready for release when his weight stabilized, his wounds had healed, and it was determined that he could retrieve food and dive, even with his amputation.
Once the vets and staff cleared McFly medically, he was transported to Little Talbot Island north of Jacksonville, Florida, where the waters are warmer and food is more plentiful this time of year. On January 14, McFly and several other rescued turtles from the Virginia Aquarium and New England Aquarium were released back into the ocean.
Because of the generosity of a donor, National Aquarium staff was able to purchase and attach a satellite tracking device to McFly. This small transmitter means that we can track his location and speed to help researchers learn more about sea turtle migration and travel patterns. The information will be gathered until the adhesive fails and the tag falls off. Learn more about the importance of animal tracking here.
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