By Meg Walburn Viviano
When the weather gets colder, we bundle up in coats. But that’s not an option for sea turtles that find themselves caught in cold places too late in the season. Thirty cold-stunned sea turtles rescued from Cape Cod, Mass., in November are now being cared for at the National Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Center in Baltimore.
Twenty-six Kemp’s ridley and four green sea turtles were first stabilized at the New England Aquarium, and will undergo long-term rehabilitation in Baltimore. Many of the turtles are recovering from conditions related to cold-stunning, from pneumonia and dehydration to lesions on their bodies. The rescue team will provide care around the clock to the endangered turtles, working to return them back to their natural habitat.
Each year the aquarium takes in several cold-stunned sea turtles, and they nickname the turtles based on a theme, like storybook characters or types of cheese. This year, the turtles are all named after musical instruments. The four green sea turtles are covering the horn and brass section, with names Tuba, Trombone, Trumpet and Cornet, while the Kemp’s ridley sea turtles have names such as Triangle, Maraca, Kazoo and Viola.
The National Aquarium’s Animal Rescue program is responsible for responding to stranded marine mammals and sea turtles along the nearly 3,190 miles of Maryland coast and works with stranding partners throughout the Greater Atlantic Regional Stranding Network to help respond, rescue and release animals year-round.
If you or someone you know finds a cold-stunned sea turtle or marine mammal in distress along the shoreline, the best thing you can do is give it space and immediately contact a trained wildlife first responder. The National Aquarium’s Stranding Hotline is 410-576-3880. National Aquarium’s Animal Rescue is on call 24/7 to respond to these events.