The two olive ridley sea turtles recently rescued by the Oregon Coast Aquarium did not make it, despite the aquarium’s best efforts to save them.
The first sea turtle, named Donatello, stranded on Horsefall Beach in Coos Bay on Wednesday. The female olive ridley suffered from multiple breaks in her shell, blood-loss and severe cold-stun. While initial blood analysis showed no signs of infection, additional testing revealed severely compromised kidneys. Donatello likely succumbed to that and potentially other internal issues related to cold stun.
The second female olive ridley stranded in Waldport on Saturday morning amid hazardous surf conditions. “While she appeared physically intact, cold-stunning itself takes its toll on the turtle’s internal organs,” said Evonne Mochon-Collura, Oregon Coast Aquarium Curator of Fish and Invertebrates. “As always with animals with sustained injuries, they have a lot of challenges through recovery.”
The Aquarium has been successful with rehabilitating two olive ridley turtles, Lightning and Solstice, in the past couple years, and will continue its efforts to save injured members of this endangered species for the chance of boosting threatened wild populations. Lightning and Solstice were treated at the Aquarium before being released in Fall 2017. Their movements were tracked off known breeding grounds in Mexico this past spring.
Sea turtles are not found on Oregon or Washington beaches unless stranded. The Aquarium typically sees these extremely sick turtles in the winter, possibly due to the cold water temperatures, changing currents, and high frequency of harsh storms that wash the hypothermic turtles ashore. If you find a sea turtle on the beach, immediately note its location, remain nearby to observe it, and contact the Oregon State Police Tipline at 800-452-7888or the Marine Mammal Stranding Network in Oregon, Washington, and California at 1-866-767-6114.