August 20, 2012
Aquarium and Partners Come Together to Return Sea Turtle to the Wild
Libby Scott, Oregon Coast Aquarium, (541) 867-3474, ext 5217
Laura Todd, Oregon Coast Refuges, (541) 867-4558, ext 237
Joan Jewett, PIO USFWS, (503) 231-6211
On August 21, 2012, Oregon Coast Aquarium and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff will deliver a threatened Pacific green sea turtle to SeaWorld San Diego staff, who will accompany the turtle from Eugene, Oregon, to San Diego, California, on a U.S. Navy airplane. The Navy’s Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 30 (VRC 30) will use the event as a training opportunity to transport the turtle aboard a C-2A “Greyhound” cargo aircraft.
The mature male Pacific green sea turtle was found stranded on a beach the evening of June 18, injured and comatose, by Moolack Shores Motel guest Nadine Fuller. Franklin and Yvette Brooks, the motel managers, reported the turtle to the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, and Stranding Coordinator Jim Rice quickly arranged transport to the Oregon Coast Aquarium.
“Franklin and I were so excited to hear our turtle was ready to return home, and Frank was particularly excited to hear the Navy would be bringing him back to San Diego,” Yvette Brooks said. “Nadine is a regular visitor to our motel and will be so thrilled to hear she made such a difference.”
This turtle was saved by conscientious members of the public who informed Rice and Aquarium staff of its stranding. One individual literally carried the large turtle on his back to a waiting vehicle to get the animal the care it needed.
The turtle has quickly improved under the round-the-clock care of veterinarians and caretakers at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Weighing in at 133 pounds when found, he now weighs 155 pounds. He is eating and swimming well and is ready to complete his rehabilitation in San Diego, where SeaWorld will return him to the ocean as soon as they have confirmed his suitability for release.
“If not for Nadine, those who called the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, the dedicated Oregon Coast Aquarium staff, and now, the Navy and SeaWorld, this turtle would have met his demise on that beach,” said Laura Todd, Supervisor of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Newport, Oregon, office. “It shows how the efforts of just one person and the combined response of a dedicated team can make the difference in saving imperiled species.”
This is the third hypothermic sea turtle to strand on Oregon’s beaches in two years, and the Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency responsible for stranded sea turtles, has been working with the Aquarium, the Marine Mammal Stranding Network and others to improve response and care for these listed species when they are sick or injured. The last pair of turtles left Oregon in 2010 and has since been returned to the Pacific Ocean, where they continue to be tracked with GPS equipment.
“The Aquarium’s role in the sea turtle’s rehabilitation has been triage, urgent care and stabilization with the end goal of transportation to a facility closer to the animal’s range, where it can eventually be released back into the wild,” said Jim Burke, Director of Animal Husbandry at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. “The Oregon Coast Aquarium rehabilitates wildlife to mitigate human impact and help with the stabilization of threatened and endangered populations when called upon. If we can utilize our resources and expertise to help our various partners reach their goals we will do so.”
The Oregon Coast Aquarium receives no on-going governmental support and relies on visitor-related revenues, grants, and donations to finance its annual operations, including its wildlife rehabilitation activities. Funding for these projects comes directly out of the money budgeted for the care of the Aquarium’s 15,000 marine animals. To help support the Aquarium’s rehabilitation efforts, please call (541) 867-3474 ext. 5228.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/pacific/. Connect with our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/USFWSPacific, follow our tweets at http://twitter.com/usfwspacific, watch our YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwspacific.