Twenty five sea turtles were released back to the ocean last month after being rehabilitated by staff at the National Aquarium in Baltimore and other aquariums along the East Coast.
The animals, including 13 Kemp’s ridley sea turtles and 12 green sea turtles, were rescued in November from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with health issues related to cold stunning, or prolonged exposure to frigid temperatures.
Those issues included severe pneumonia; shell, eye and skin lesions; missing limbs; gastrointestinal infections; dehydration; extreme fat loss; blood infections; and several cases of osteomyelitis, a bone infection.
The National Aquarium treated 15 sea turtles, while the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut treated seven and the Virginia Aquarium treated three.
After recovering from their injuries and illnesses, all 25 sea turtles were released on Feb. 22 in St. Augustine, Florida.
“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,” National Aquarium rehabilitation manager Caitlin Bovery said in a statement.
The smallest sea turtle of the bunch, a turtle named Dewey, weighed only 2.2 pounds and was estimated to be at most 1 or 2 years old.
Dewey was able to recover quickly, showing a “voracious appetite from day one, even to the point of stealing food from other turtles in his enclosure that were over four times his size,” aquarium staff said.
Over the course of his rehabilitation at the National Aquarium, Dewey gained 2 pounds, reaching a healthy weight for a turtle his age, aquarium staff said.
“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,” Bovery said. “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.”
Originally, 26 sea turtles were rescued in November, however one green sea turtle who had a severe infection passed away shortly after arriving at the National 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,” aquarium officials said. “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 make their return to sea.”