After a successful rehabilitation at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Md., a group of 15 juvenile sea turtles have been returned to their natural habitat off the coast of Florida. The 13 Kemp’s ridley and two green sea turtles came to the National Aquarium in November after stranding due to being cold-stunned off the coast of Massachusetts. The turtles were treated for ailments commonly associated with cold stunning including pneumonia, dehydration, emaciation, shell and skin lesions, eye lesions and blood infections. Each turtle was given a name after a musical instrument, the naming theme chosen for the 2021-2022 sea turtle rescue season. The band includes Piccolo, Trumpet, Viola, Kazoo, Harp, Xylophone, Fiddle, Maraca, Harmonica, Clarinet, Flute, Castanets, Bongo, Banjo and green sea turtle Cornet, who made a successful recovery after passing plastic debris.
“We are ecstatic that Cornet made a successful recovery, but unfortunately, the threat of plastic pollution isn’t over for him or any of these turtles as they migrate along east coast waters,” said National Aquarium Animal Rescue Director, Jennifer Dittmar. “Marine debris continues to be a growing concern for the safety of sea turtles as they migrate along the waters of the East Coast. Cornet’s case serves as a stark reminder of why the National Aquarium works to advocate for the elimination of single-use plastics and the removal of plastic pollution from waterways and wetlands.”
As plastic pollution, climate change and other impacts from human activities affect sea turtle population recovery, organizations that make up the Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network are facing increasing demands to respond to and rehabilitate stranded sea turtles. Nonprofits like the National Aquarium voluntarily help fulfill the federal government’s obligation to care for these endangered animals and rely on donations to rescue, rehabilitate, and release sea turtles. The Aquarium continues to work with Senator Van Hollen and partners across the country to advocate for direct federal funding mechanisms to support sea turtle stranding response and rehabilitation.
In addition to the 15 turtles that underwent rehab at the National Aquarium, the National Aquarium also coordinated the release of 14 turtles rescued and rehabilitated by the New England Aquarium, the New York Marine Rescue Center, and the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society.
The National Aquarium continues to care for 16 turtles. The annual cold-stunned turtle rescue season begins in November, when water and air temperatures drop in the Greater Atlantic Region, often leading to cold-stunned turtles and stranding. The 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.