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On Thursday, June 25, the National Aquarium released a group of 10 sea turtles at Assateague State Park. This marks the Aquarium's 300th rehabilitated animal release since the Animal Rescue program was founded in 1991. Of the 300 animals rehabilitated and released by the National Aquarium's Animal Rescue program, 242 have been sea turtles with 178 being the critically endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtle.
A Kemp's ridley weighing in at more than 14 pounds, the largest to be released and nicknamed Muenster (in keeping with the season's cheese-naming theme), was given the honor of number 300. Asiago, Brie, and Mascarpone, also Kemp's ridley sea turtles, were transferred from the New England Aquarium after stranding as cold-stunned turtles on the Massachusetts' coast and have been in rehabilitation at the National Aquarium since November 2019.
Six green sea turtles, nicknamed Chechil, Cotija, Fontina, Pimento, Monterey Jack and Roquefort, stranded along the coast of North Carolina and were transferred to the National Aquarium after being triaged from North Carolina's STAR Center in January 2020.
The turtles were treated for ailments commonly associated with cold stunning including pneumonia, respiratory distress, dehydration, infection and emaciation.
"With the help of many volunteers and partners including Assateague State Park, the Town of Ocean City and the Department of Natural Resources, we have been able to rehabilitate and release more than 300 animals which is a true milestone," said Jennifer Dittmar, director of animal rescue at the National Aquarium. "This work allows critically endangered species like the Kemp's ridley sea turtles to have a fighting chance and also helps to educate the public on how we can be better stewards of the environment around us."
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.