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Rescued Sea Turtles at the Oregon Coast Aquarium
Oregon Coast Notes - News
The Oregon Coast Aquarium is rehabilitating two stranded sea turtles, found on different beaches on Oregon’s coast last weekend. An Olive Ridley sea turtle was found stranded on Agate Beach in Newport and a Green sea turtle was discovered on the southern Washington Coast.

The turtles, both females, were transported to the Oregon Coast Aquarium, which is designated by U.S. Fish & Wildlife (USFWS) to posses, rehabilitate and transport sea turtles, with the goal of releasing them back into their natural habitat.

“The ocean conditions seem to be conducive to these animals becoming stranded right now,” said Jim Burke, Director of Animal Husbandry at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. “There is a mild El Nino this year and this creates a situation where the turtles find themselves in warm water gyres, or pockets, surrounded by cold water,” said Burke. “Once the warm water dissipates, they become hypothermic and go into a hibernation-like state, called brumation, and they can no longer navigate or survive.” Burke said reptiles can slow their metabolism, which allows a window of time when they can be rescued, rehabilitated and successfully released.

The Olive Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), is one of the smallest species of sea turtle. It is named for the olive-green color of its heart-shaped shell. The Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), is a large sea turtle belonging to the family Cheloniidae. Their common name derives from the green fat underneath their shell. All sea turtles are protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Burke said the turtles’ natural habitat has a temperature of about 70-85 degrees, and these turtles were in water that was less than 50 degrees. “The Olive Ridley is in relatively good shape right now,” said Burke. “His temperature is up and he is eating. The Green turtle is still cold and has a front flipper injury and we are bringing its temperature up slowly.” Burke said husbandry staff is working closely with veterinarians to improve their health enough to transport them to a larger sea turtle rehabilitation facility possibly at SeaWorld in San Diego. From there, the goal is to release them back into their natural habitat. The cost of caring for the sea turtles will be covered in part by a grant from the Kinsman Foundation.

Anyone that finds a sea turtle on the beach should contact the Oregon State Police Wildlife Hotline at 1-800-452-7888 to ensure appropriate transport and care of the animal.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium is located in Newport