The National Aquarium in Baltimore, Md., returned 25 juvenile sea turtles to their ocean home after successful rehabilitation at the end of February. Each turtle stranding season, the Aquarium’s volunteers and staff designate a naming convention; this year’s turtles were named after popular beach destinations.
The 13 Kemp’s ridley and 12 green sea turtles, released on 22 February in St. Augustine, Fla., all suffered from ailments stemming from cold stunning at the end of 2022, including severe pneumonia, shell, eye and skin lesions, missing limbs, gastrointestinal infections, dehydration, emaciation, blood infections and several cases of osteomyelitis. Fifteen turtles were treated by National Aquarium staff, while the Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Conn., treated seven, and the Virginia Aquarium in Virginia Beach, Va., treated three.
Among the rehabilitated and released turtles was Dewey, the smallest sea turtle rehabbed at the National Aquarium, weighing in at 2.2 lbs., indicating that he was only one or two years old at most. While his small size meant he might be at risk for severe pneumonia and a long recovery, Dewey bounced back quickly and immediately showed signs of improvement. Dewey had a big appetite from day one and gained an additional 2 lbs. during his rehabilitation at the National Aquarium, bringing him up to a healthy weight for his age.
“Every sea turtle patient is a unique individual, and our team is in tune with even the most minute changes in their progress during the rehabilitation process. It is an incredibly rewarding experience to be a part of their road to recovery, and we look forward every year to the moment each patient gets a clean bill of health,” said Rehabilitation Manager, Caitlin Bovery. “The joy of seeing these animals through to their return to sea instills a great sense of pride in the dedication of our team and the commitment of the Aquarium to rehabilitate these critically endangered species.”
This year was the third-highest cold-stun season on record, with over 850 sea turtles stranding in the Greater Atlantic Region from Maine to Virginia. The National Aquarium admitted an increased number of green sea turtles, which presented new challenges for the teams.
Unfortunately, one green sea turtle succumbed to her illness due to a severe infection soon after arriving at the Aquarium. While it is always difficult to lose a patient, the teams were able to learn about the presentation of those symptoms to help support other patients. The National Aquarium’s animal health and rescue teams are honored to support the long-term rehabilitation of these debilitated animals as they recover and return to sea.
Photo Credit: © National Aquarium
Edited by Sarah Gilsoul, a writer and communications program assistant at AZA.
Back to All Stories