National Aquarium Reaches Milestone of 350 Animals Rehabilitated and Released

The National Aquarium celebrates its 350th rehabilitated animal released back into its natural habitat with a sea turtle nicknamed Tuba.

The National Aquarium's Animal Rescue team released a group of 11 sea turtles on April 27 off the coast of North Carolina after their successful rehabilitation at the Animal Care and Rescue Center. This marks the Aquarium's 350th rehabilitated and released animal since the Animal Rescue program was founded in 1991.

This is the second turtle release for the National Aquarium this year. The 11 sea turtles, which included 9 Kemp's ridley and 2 green sea turtles, were treated this season among a total of 30 cold-stunned sea turtle patients nicknamed for musical instruments, the theme chosen for the 2021-2022 rescue season. Tuba, Trombone, Ukulele, Bell, Oboe, Cello, Didgeridoo, Tambourine, Triangle, Guitar and Saxophone were not healthy enough to be released earlier in the season, but have now fully healed and have been returned to sea off the coast of Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina.

The turtles were treated for ailments commonly associated with cold stunning, including pneumonia, dehydration, emaciation, shell and skin lesions, eye lesions and blood infections. Tuba, a green sea turtle, arrived at the National Aquarium with a laceration to the edge of the shell. National Aquarium Animal Health team members determined the extent of Tuba's injuries and created an extensive treatment plan to heal the wounds. After months of topical wound care, bandage changes, a procedure to clean and debride the wound, as well as supportive therapies like antibiotics and fluids, Tuba made a successful recovery.

"We are proud to share that with the help of our local, regional and national partners, we have rehabilitated and released 350 animals back into their ocean homes," said National Aquarium Rehabilitation Manager Caitlin Bovery. "Each time we return an animal back into its natural habitat we are reinvigorated and motivated to continue this critical mission work."

Organizations that make up the Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network are facing increasing demands to respond and rehabilitate federally protected sea turtles—but there's currently inadequate direct federal support for this crucial conservation work. Maryland Senators Chris Van Hollen and Benjamin Cardin, and Representatives Anthony Brown and Jamie Raskin are among the more than two dozen bipartisan members of Congress calling for $5 million in the upcoming federal budget to support sea turtle stranding response and rehabilitation. Already, more than 42 institutions from 22 states and territories, led by the National Aquarium, have called on Congress to provide funding to support the rescue and rehabilitation of threatened and endangered sea turtles.

The National Aquarium's Animal Rescue program is responsible for responding to stranded marine mammals and sea turtles along the nearly 3,190 miles of Maryland coast and works with stranding partners through the Greater Atlantic Region Stranding Network to help respond, rescue and release animals year-round.

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