Saying Good-Bye to the Loggerheads

On June 22, 2014 the four loggerhead sea turtles we met in the Return of the Loggerheads blog were transported from Aquarium's Rescue and Rehabilitation Center to Assateague State Park in Maryland for release. The  Rescue Team was lucky enough to be joined by Asheley Simpson and Shannon Prendiville. Shannon and Asheley played a crucial role in the rehabilitation of these four loggerheads. The Rescue Team is forever grateful to these two for their tireless dedication and expertise.

Release day started in the early morning hours on Sunday. All the turtles were prepped and loaded into the vehicles for a ride down to Maryland. Two loggerhead sea turtles, Sugar Plum and Andes were outfitted with satellite tags. The satellite tags give us the opportunity to track the turtles' migrations. For an exciting opportunity to watch the turtle's movements you can go to seaturtle.org.

Asheley applies lubricant to Andes to help keep the turtle moist throughout the journey.

It takes a team effort to load these large sea turtles into the vehicles.

Upon arrival to Assateague State Park, the Aquarium Rescue Team was greeted by a number of excited onlookers and Assateague State Park personnel.

The crew, with turtles in tow, hitch a ride with Assateague State Park personnel down to the beach.

Andes taking a peek before the release.

Candy Cane waiting patiently to be released.

Candy Cane relieved to be out and making headway towards the water.

Patience pays off, Candy Cane hits the waters edge and makes the journey out to the ocean. 

Shannon and Asheley help release the smallest and feistiest of the loggerheads, Maple.

The team works together to release a 140 pound loggerhead named Sugar Plum.

Sugar Plum makes it out to the ocean. Sugar Plum is outfitted with a satellite tag; you can follow this turtle's movements on seaturtle.org.

Shannon and Asheley share a hug and smile after watching the turtles they worked with make their way out to the ocean.

The Aquarium Rescue crew, celebrating a job well done after a long day of driving and releasing the four large loggerhead sea turtles.


Lasered to a Golden Crisp

 #32 "Golden Crisp", a rescued Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, was admitted last year cold-stunned.

#32-"Golden Crisp" when first admitted; lethargic, emaciated, and cold-stunned.

Once in rehab, staff noticed swelling in both front flippers and the left rear flipper. Coinciding with the swelling, "Golden Crisp" began to use these flippers less and less.

Swelling of the left rear flipper
Swelling of the right front flipper

Radiographs, laser therapy, cultures and exploratory surgery were performed to help diagnose and treat "Golden Crisp."

Laser therapy is used to help reduce swelling and promote greater range of motion.

"Golden Crisp" undergoes exploratory surgery of the left rear joint and the left front joint. Necrotic bone and tissue were removed and cultured.

After the surgery, "Golden Crisp" was moved to a different tank to encourage greater range of motion of the flippers. In the past few weeks since the surgery, this turtle has been using the right front flipper and rear left flipper more and more.

— Linda


#67 Kaboom: On the way to recovery!

We've been following turtle #067—a rescued Kemp's ridley sea turtle—during rehabilitation after it washed up on a beach in Brewster, Massachusetts with hypothermia this fall. First she took a field trip for specialized diagnostics, then she had a brochoscopy and a laparoscopy. Today's post is an update on her recovery.

We would like to give you a quick update on Kaboom, a Kemp's ridley sea turtle that for a long time was our most critical patient.

Kaboom "showing off" her beautiful shell!

Back in January, Kaboom was transferred to the Veterinary Referral Hospital in Woburn, MA, for a CT scan, which revealed several areas of diseased lung and severe pneumonia. In the next couple of months Kaboom also underwent a bronchoscopy and a laparoscopy, to further diagnose the nature of her pneumonia and obtain some lung samples for better diagnosis.

Based on the bacteria that was isolated from her lung tissue, Kaboom's prognosis was very guarded, but we all felt she had a fighting chance. She was started on three different types of antibiotics that were given to her both through injections and by mouth. Kaboom's appetite was initially very poor and the rescue team volunteers and interns had to work very hard to get Kaboom to eat her medications.

Over the next few months, Kaboom grew stronger and stronger, her appetite increased and her overall appearance has changed dramatically. She morphed from this malnourished, skinny looking turtle with multiple scars and lesions on her shell and flippers to a beautiful, much healthier looking turtle. For those who have not seen her for longer periods of time, the transformation was so remarkable that many did not believe Kaboom was the same turtle they saw a few months ago.

Just recently our veterinary staff scheduled a convalescent CT scan to see if the overall improvement in Kaboom's condition would be reflected in the results from the CT scan of her lungs. Below are two images of Kaboom's lungs, one from January and one from May. Even for an untrained individual, the difference is remarkable! The lung area is the dark area in the upper half of the turtle, just under the carapace (upper shell).

Kaboom's January CT scan.

Kaboom's May CT scan.

As you can see by comparing these two images, the lungs in January, especially the right one, have many areas of diseased tissue marked by "white" patches. The same areas in May are almost completely dark, which is healthy lung tissue.

Kaboom on the CT table right before the procedure.

Shortly after the CT Kaboom was discontinued from all antibiotics and is on the way to recovery!


The Return of the Loggerheads

New England Aquarium Rescue Staff and Volunteers had the pleasure to take a trip up to the University of New England (UNE) Marine Animal Rehabilitation and Conservation program (MARC) to pick up and conduct a health study on four cold-stun loggerhead sea turtles that have been housed there over the winter for rehabilitation. 

These four loggerheads were admitted to NEAq last year suffering from cold stunning. At the time, we were inundated with cold stun sea turtles and running out of space. UNE MARC was ever so gracious in lending a helping hand, they agreed to take the loggerheads and to see to their rehabilitation. Now the four loggerheads have made a journey back to the Aquarium, where they will complete the rest of their rehab and be released in the near future. Take a look below to see a successful collaborative effort between NEAq and MARC!
NEAq staff and volunteers prepare to take samples and data for a health study. 

MARC volunteers prepare to remove "Maple" from the tank. 

"Maple" emerges.

NEAq staff take blood from each loggerhead for a health study. 

Heart rates are taken on all the loggerheads with a use of a fetal Doppler. 

NEAq staff run blood assays on each loggerhead. 

NEAq and MARC volunteers work together to document time and behavior of the loggerheads.

Once the turtles have been pulled from the tanks and have undergone a health study, they are taken out in a kennel and placed in the SUV for transport to NEAq. 

"Maple" takes a deep sigh while waiting to be placed back into the water at NEAq. 

A HUGE thank you goes out to UNE MARC for all their help and support! 


Good-bye Friends!

Here are some more pictures from the Earth Day release. These are the three turtles we introduced in the recent blog: Before and After—Frankenberry, Crunchasaurus Rex and Lucky.

A Kemp's ridley turtle nicknamed Frankenberry makes its way down the beach to the water

Here's Cruchasaurus Rex. The last time this turtle was this far south would have probably been as a hatchling, approximately 3 years ago.

Senior Biologist Julika Wocial getting ready to release 007.

"Crunchasaurus Rex" 007 feels the warm Florida water again. 

The next turtle was one of two loggerheads released on this trip. "Lucky the Leprechaun" 090 required two aquarium personnel to get the turtle out of its transport kennel. Once out and on the beach this turtle steadily ambled its way back to sea.  

Senior Veterinary Technician Katie Youngman and Rescue Intern Ariana Livingston
help get "Lucky" out of the transport kennel.

A crowd sends "Lucky" on its way

Good Luck 90!

The other Kemp's ridley we posted about, "Frankenberry" 023, was released alongside several other turtles. 
Nikki Wong, volunteer for the Rescue department getting ready to release the turtle.

Safe travels "Frankenberry"!

Bon voyage turtles!


We still have several turtles in the rehab facility that are being cared for. Stay tuned for updates on previous turtle cases, like 067 "Kaboom". Also, to hear about other turtles such as 016 "Honeycombs" and 022 "Pop".


More photos from the release.

Now that the team is back from releasing thirty one rehabbed turtles in Florida.  We have been able to look through some of our photos and are now able to start sharing them with you. Enjoy the pictures!

On the way south. First major obstacle to get over is the George Washington Bridge! Looks like the turtle gods were with them.

In order to accommodate the number of turtles the caravan consisted of three vehicles. 

Upon arrival at Little Talbot Island the park rangers assisted us with getting the turtles over the dunes to the release site.

Lining the turtles up and getting them ready to send home to the Atlantic!

One last good-bye...

and away they...


After twenty four hours of driving, a couple of hours setting up the the release site, and the successful release of thirty one endangered sea turtles a well earned celebration takes place! 

See all of the 2013 Cold Stun sea turtle season posts here.