The Seaside Aquarium recovered a 50-pound olive ridley sea turtle came ashore Wednesday near Benson Beach. Tiffany Boothe of Seaside Aquarium reported that U.S. Fish and Wildlife transfered her to the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport Wednesday night for rehabilitation.
“Today we are especially thankful for the dedication from all parties involved given the short notice on a holiday,” said Jim Burke, Director of Animal Husbandry at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in a statement. “Our staff will perform X-rays today and continue to monitor the sea turtle’s condition. Although we are always uncertain of the outcome when we receive extremely sick animals, we are hopeful for this turtle’s successful rehabilitation.”
According to Sally Compton, public relations director of the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Chad and Mickey Heidt of Beaverton were camping at Cape Disappointment State Park in Washington and discovered the stranded turtle while walking on Benson Beach Wednesday around 4:30 p.m.
The couple was able to reach the Marine Mammal Standing Network and coordinated with Seaside Aquarium staff, who provided instructions for assisting in the transfer of the turtle with the help of a Washington Park ranger.
Laura Todd with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service retrieved the turtle from Seaside to transport it safely to the Oregon Coast Aquarium. After receiving the turtle around 12:30 a.m. Thanksgiving morning, Oregon State Aquarium staff evaluated her condition, administered fluids, and performed a blood draw. Initial exams showed the turtle was extremely emaciated. Her temperature was 59 degrees Fahrenheit, well below the standard temperature of 75 degrees.
Olive ridleys washing ashore have become more frequent in the past few years, with noted strandings in Seaside, Cannon Beach and throughout the North Coast.
Olive ridley sea turtles are listed on the federal endangered species list as threatened.
During the winter, cold-shocked sea turtles can become stranded on our beaches, Tiffany Boothe of the Seaside Aquarium said. Reports of stranded turtles can begin as early as mid-October and can continue through January.
Seaside is authorized to receive stranded turtles and hold them until transport can be arranged, according to Lance Beck of the Oregon Coast Aquarium in an interview earlier this year.
If a turtle washes ashore on the north coast of Oregon it is common for Seaside to be one of the first to respond to a report of an animal on the beach. The Oregon Coast Aquarium and Seattle Aquarium are the only two authorized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services facilities in the Pacific Northwest that can provide long term rehabilitation care for sea turtles.
The trend of turtles washing ashore is expected to continue, Beck said.
“Good luck big girl!” Boothe wrote on the Seaside Aquarium’s Facebook page.