National Aquarium Welcomes Non-Releasable Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle from SeaWorld

The sea turtle is one of 10 seeking permanent residence at aquariums and zoos across the country

The National Aquarium welcomed a 42-year-old Kemp's ridley sea turtle on October 24 into its care. The turtle made its way to the Aquarium following a 90-day quarantine at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida. The sea turtle is one of 10 Kemp's ridleys that were deemed non-releasable following a 1980's experimental breeding program. The sea turtle will soon make the Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit its forever home.

The sea turtle was one of 10 remaining adult sea turtles raised at the Cayman Turtle Centre in the Cayman Islands as part of an experimental breeding program. In 1980, the wild Kemp's ridley population was at risk of extinction due to hunting and unintentional catching in shrimp trawl fisheries. The sea turtle was part of a group of yearlings that were sent to the Cayman Turtle Centre as a trial to determine if breeding in human care would be successful. The project concluded as the Kemp's ridley population grew due to the implementation of international conservation efforts. Eight males and two females remained and were sent to SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida, for a 90-day quarantine before finding their new homes.

The male sea turtle, which weighs approximately 62 pounds, was flown here by jet thanks to the generosity of National Aquarium Board Member Jack Dwyer, founder of CFG Bank. As the founder of the Baltimore-based company, Dwyer believes in giving back to the community it serves. Animal care staff was onboard the flight to monitor the turtle and ensure its safety.

CFG Bank is the lead sponsor of the Aquarium's waterfront campus project and donated $3 million to the National Aquarium to install a network of floating wetlands between Piers 3 and 4. The waterfront campus will create a habitat for native species, gradually improving the harbor's water quality and reconnecting residents and visitors with the natural world right at the water's edge. This vision for an expansive, vibrant waterfront ecosystem will soon be realized with plans to open in 2024.

The Kemp's ridley is the National Aquarium's newest ambassador for its Animal Rescue program. As a representative of the Kemp's ridley species of sea turtles that are treated by our animal rescue team each winter, he will connect guests to our Kemp's ridley rehabilitation and conservation efforts. The turtle will undergo a 30- to 90-day quarantine and acclimation period at the Animal Care and Rescue Center and will undergo periodic exams to determine his overall health while Animal Care and Welfare staff complete preparations in the Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit. This will be the first time this exhibit has housed a sea turtle in nearly 20 years.

The National Aquarium rescued two sick loggerhead sea turtles on August 24, found within 20 miles of each other in the Chesapeake Bay area. The sea turtles, nicknamed Marimba and Glockenspiel, suffered from pneumonia, dehydration and malnutrition and received intensive critical care from the Aquarium's Animal Care and Welfare staff. Marimba was well enough to be transported to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island to continue her rehabilitation and is expected to be released in the warmer waters of the southeast once fully healed. Glockenspiel is still receiving critical care at the National Aquarium until he has stabilized enough to transfer to a warmer climate to complete rehabilitation or return to sea post-recovery.

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