Crater Lake Loses a Weeklong Struggle

Rescue Team member Kerry McNally with Crater

We are very sorry to report that Crater Lake, the Kemp's ridley sea turtle with severe propeller wounds, died overnight. Crater's energy level dropped on Sunday and the blood work started to take a turn for the worse. Aquarium veterinarians adjusted fluid therapy and prescribed new medications in an effort to save Crater, but unfortunately were not successful.

With such severe injuries, this outcome is not completely unexpected, but we had been hopeful when Crater seemed to be doing well in the first week after admission. We will continue to study Crater's case today in an effort to understand more, which will hopefully help us treat turtles with similar injuries in the future.




Meet Crater Lake - A rescued sea turtle struck by a boat propeller

A Kemp's ridley sea turtle with a severe fracture of the carapace after initial cleanup and stabilization.

Crater Lake or Crater for short was brought in yesterday afternoon off of a beach in Sandwich, Mass. The Aquarium's Marine Animal Rescue Team went down and met up with James and Dennis from Wellfleet Audubon. They had already taken the turtle off the beach and were ready to get the turtle packed up in our ambulance to head back to the Aquarium.

This was another Kemp's ridley that had a severe fracture to the carapace (top part of shell). It looks like it probably was made by a boat propeller. We cleaned up the shell a bit and determined that the fracture did not appear to involve any major organs. Dr Innis and Dr Cavin flushed out the areas of soft tissue under the fracture and tried to determine the best route of action.

After stabilizing the fracture, Crater was tucked in to the ICU for the night. So today we decided to put the turtle back together again!

After cleaning the area and adding some topical anesthetic our Veterinarians started to piece together the carapace. After the carapace was in place we wanted to try and bring the coelomic cavity (the space between all the organs in the body cavity) back into contact with the shell. So we started a vacuum-assisted closure. This will create negative pressure in the crack and slowly draw the coelomic lining towards the shell.

The turtle is very active and the blood work currently does not show any major anomalies. We are hopeful for a positive outcome!




What's in a name - the rescued turtle debate

So there is a little bit of a debate about our new turtle's name.

But first....

Joe Tatulli came to visit his turtle yesterday along with his niece and nephew. You may remember Joe from some of his photos and an interview on a Rhode Island news program. Joe was the original caller for Acadia our loggerhead sea turtle. They were able to say hello to Acadia and meet our new ridley.

Joe also knew the way to endear himself to our crew. Not only reporting the stranded turtle but bringing delicious sandwiches from the Sandwich Hut in Providence. Thanks Joe!

Photo from Joe of rescuers taking Acadia back to the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.

Okay, so back to the naming thing. We chose National Parks for our naming convention this year. With the second turtle most people thought we would name the turtle Bryce imagine their surprise when we called it Bandalier. There was some arguments that it was not a national park but a state park and therefore should be named Bryce.

However, through further research we found that it is a National Monument which, is run by the National Parks Service. Though this may be a technicality, I like the name, so Bandalier it is! Also from what I am told Bryce National park is beautiful and has lots of oranges and reds which describes a loggerhead to a tee, and our new turtle is a Kemp's ridley.

We also just received another new turtle. The names being batted around are crater or canyon. The choices may give you a hint to what else is wrong with this turtle besides cold-stun. Check back soon for an update ...



Then there were two - meet the second rescued turtle of the season

While part of the rescue group was off on the cape helping with a training session. Two of our other staff members were at the New England Aquarium receiving our second sea turtle of the season. Unlike Acadia this one fit the typical stranding scenario.

Our newest sea turtle of the 2009-2010 cold-stun season.

Begining of turtle season usually starts off with smaller sea turtles. This little Kemp's ridley weighed in at a whopping 1.7kg (3.74lbs) and can be moved easily by one person! The core temperature was 65F and unlike Acadia we cannot tell the sex of this turtle.

The blood values on this turtle were pretty good so we started swimming the turtle in one of our Aquarium Medical Center tanks. Unlike some turtles that may require support by our staff and volunteers this turtle started swimming right away.

While we continue to get our Sea Turtle Recovery Room ready for the season [The space that housed the Sea Turtle Recovery Room is now The Trust Family Foundation Shark and Ray Touch Tank. Rescued sea turtles are now cared for at the new, much larger Animal Care Clinic in Quincy.] you will be able to see this turtle in the AMC.




Mass Stranding Training, Work and Fun All in One!

Hi everyone,

Yesterday we hosted our joint mass stranding response-training with our stranding partners from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). The IFAW stranding team covers the mainland Cape Cod, which is home to frequent mass stranding events. For those of you who are not familiar with the term mass stranding, this refers to the phenomenon of multiple dolphins or whales coming ashore at the same time.

These events can be quite large and range between 2 to 100 or more animals coming ashore at once. Managing these events takes a great many resources, careful planning, and a lot of training between the two organizations. The other key ingredient for successful mass stranding response is a large team of highly trained, dedicated volunteers.

Our mass stranding volunteers are required to attend a lot of training before responding to mass stranded dolphins and whales. Yesterday's class was an advanced course, which included lectures, breakout groups, practical skills and a written test. We are most fortunate to have a wonderful group of dedicated mass stranding volunteers, below are photos of them and the staff during the training workshop.

Misty from IFAW (second from left), Kate and Adam listening to another presenter and preparing to give their lectures. 

The New England Aquarium and IFAW rescue teams wish to thank everyone who helped make yesterday a successful day of training. We also thank the New England Aquarium Dive Club for providing the participants with breakfast. We especially thank all the volunteers who attended the workshop. It is in large part their dedication that makes it possible for us to provide the highest quality response and care to mass stranded whales and dolphins.

- Connie



How do you like your calamari? Acadia lets us know her preference!

Acadia, the loggerhead sea turtle, is adjusting well to her tank. We took her out on Thursday to run blood work, do an exam, and give more fluids. Getting her out of the pool is no easy task!

While Acadia was out of her tank and after we received results from taking her blood, we performed an exam and gave her more fluids.

Then she was placed back in her tank (a much easier process than getting her out). Our next task was to start feeding. Usually turtles are slow to start eating so it was no surprise that she turned her back on the herring I offered later that afternoon.

By Friday afternoon, Acadia decided squid was her preference and began to eat. No need to fry or grill calamari for her, she takes it raw! Today she even began to eat whole herring. This is an excellent sign!

We will check her blood work again early next week and continue to monitor her progress. Check back for updates!




How can you help the rescue team?

As the cold-stunning season begins, we expect to be caring for a lot of sea turtles over the next several months, and we need your help! In addition to getting the latest news here on the blog (subscribe here), there are some important things you can do.

Acadia during her rescue in Wellfleet, Mass. (Photo: Joseph Tatulli)

Use The Hotline
Sea turtles in our region do not typically come ashore unless they are seriously debilitated. If you are on Cape Cod or the Islands and see a turtle on shore call the Wellfleet Audubon Turtle Hotline at 508-349-2615 ext:104 if you are north of Cape cod call the New England Aquarium's 24-hour Marine Animal Hotline: (617) 973-5247. Please try to remain calm and leave your name, location of animal and a phone number where you can be reached.

Volunteer with the Marine Animal Rescue Team. We rely heavily on volunteer support! Once properly trained, volunteers assist us in our hospital by providing care to rescued animals as well as working in the office and lab. Field volunteers play a vital role as our eyes and ears on the beaches providing us with detailed information about animals that come ashore.

Volunteers Melissa and Inge assist the Rescue staff during sea turtle season.

Donate Using Your Cell Phone
Make a $5 donation now using your cell phone. Here's the details.

Other Donations
You can also make a donation to help the Aquarium care for these animals. You can donate to our
Proud Parent animal sponsorship program or you can make a larger donation using this online form.


Acadia makes a big splash!

Acadia made a big splash yesterday as she headed on into the Sea Turtle Recovery Room's smaller tank. [The space that housed the Sea Turtle Recovery Room is now The Trust Family Foundation Shark and Ray Touch Tank. Rescued sea turtles are now cared for at the new, much larger Animal Care Clinic in Quincy.] We had multiple news agencies here to share the experience.

But before going into the tank we wanted to make sure we were able to get some tagging done. While Acadia was still a bit lethargic and not feeling 100% we determined that it would be the best time to PIT and Inconel tag this turtle. These procedures are difficult with the small turtles with animal of this size we would have gotten our butts kicked if she was in a fighting mood!

We also gave more fluids to help with the minor electrolyte imbalance and gave an injection of iron to help with her slight anemia. Then we rolled her out of the Aquarium Medical Center over to the tank she will be calling home for a while.

With cameras rolling and lights flashing she was placed into the pool and gave a good splash with her right front flipper.

After a couple of hours of swimming she gave us a great present of a large bowel movement! This is wonderful news because it means that her intestinal tract is highly unlikely to have an impaction and under microscopic observation there were no signs of parasites.

Here's a movie that shows photos of her rescue and video of us transferring her into the recovery room:




Update on our new patient, Acadia

We received photos today from Joseph Tatulli, the person who first saw the loggerhead sea turtle that was rescued this weekend and reported it. Here is a picture of the turtle in Drummers Pond.

(Photo: Joseph Tatulli)

Also our new loggerhead was given a name today. We have decided on Acadia. Most seasons we choose a theme for naming rescued turtles; this year we have decided on National Parks. Here's a list of the parks.

Acadia National Park is located in Maine.

But enough about the naming. What's going on with our gal...

Yesterday we took radiographs and found that she has a fairly full gastrointestinal tract. She is also missing part of her rear left flipper, most likely due to some predation as a smaller turtle. We removed the majority of barnacles and cleaned up her shell. Some folks visiting the aquarium got a good show of her receiving a fresh water bath in a small pool as we were removing the algae from her carapace.

Her blood work shows that she is still slightly anemic; because of this we may hold her a little longer than what we had originally planned. Some of the keratin on the carapace is also starting to slough off, which is not too surprising because of the barnacles and algae cover. We also want to make sure she is able to move the contents out of her intestinal tract and that there isn't a blockage.

We are planning on putting her into one of our sea turtle tanks in the Sea Turtle Recovery Room [The space that housed the Sea Turtle Recovery Room is now The Trust Family Foundation Shark and Ray Touch Tank. Rescued sea turtles are now cared for at the new, much larger Animal Care Clinic in Quincy.]at some point today. We will monitor how she is swimming and hope the activity will help stimulate GI motility.




The new turtle season starts BIG!

The first rescued turtle of the season, a loggerhead, in the back of an
Audubon pickup. She takes up half the pickup bed!

Hi everyone,

Yesterday we received a BIG surprise from the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. Our First cold-stunned sea turtle of the season has arrived. Typically the first turtles are small ridleys and green sea turtles, so this one was a real shocker.

She is an sub-adult loggerhead sea turtle. She was reported to the Wellfleet Audubon Sanctuary late Sunday evening as a juvenile leatherback that was swimming in a marsh. It was already getting dark and we hoped that the turtle would swim back out on its own. When they found it Monday morning it turned out to be this 175-lb. loggerhead.

When the rescue department arrived in Wellfleet the turtle had a temperature of 54.8F because the bay temperature did not drop below 60F this indicates that the turtle had been exposed to the air temperature possibly over the past couple of nights.

The carapace (top shell) was covered with algae and barnacles. She had low respiratory and heart rates. Her blood work showed some minor abnormalities and she was given subcutaneous fluids to help balance them.

We are hoping this animal will have a short stay, but we will know more after X-rays are done and a complete blood work is returned.