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Sea Turtles Spread Conservation Message at Mystic Aquarium

Discussion in 'United States' started by Mystic Aquarium, 11 Dec 2008.

  1. Mystic Aquarium

    Mystic Aquarium Member

    22 Sep 2008
    Mystic, CT, USA
    Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration, divisions of Sea Research Foundation, Inc., is now home to four sea turtles – Charlotte, a juvenile green sea turtle, and three loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings. Their arrival marks the first time in more than three years that the Aquarium has had sea turtles on exhibit.

    Charlotte came from the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island, Ga., on November 23. She was found stranded on Cumberland Island, Ga., and taken to the center last January. Her shell and hind flippers were covered with barnacles, and she had been struck by a boat’s propeller. A CT scan and MRI revealed a fracture or break in her vertebrae and a compressed spinal cord, which partially paralyzed her intestinal tract and hind flippers. The paralysis prevents normal movement of her gastrointestinal tract, causing gas to accumulate, which makes it difficult for her to dive. As a result, she floats with her rear end up.

    Though Charlotte has been deemed non-releasable, there is a chance that, with long-term rehabilitation, she could recover and possibly be released back into the ocean in future years. Until then, she is serving as an ambassador for her species while staying in “Stingray Bay” on the main exhibit floor. Charlotte is the first sea turtle the Georgia Sea Turtle Center has placed in an aquarium.

    “It could take years for Charlotte to regain specific biological functions needed for release back into the wild. We needed to find her a home, so that we can continue to take in more injured turtles,” said Dr. Terry Norton, D.V.M., veterinarian and director of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. “Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration was a good fit for Charlotte. We knew the aquarium would provide her with a good quality of life and would use her story to spread awareness of how common boat strikes are.”

    The three loggerhead hatchlings arrived on October 28 from the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. One was rescued from its nest three days after hatching after showing signs of sluggishness. Another was found on a beach with a flipper injury, and the third was rescued from its nest before Tropical Storm Hanna arrived. The abnormally high tides created by the storm would have flooded the nest.

    “Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration expressed an interest in adding hatchlings to its collection for educational purposes,” said Brian Dorn, husbandry curator at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. “As loggerheads are a protected species, this relationship provides a great opportunity to further our conservation mission. We hope to continue providing the Aquarium with hatchlings on a regular basis.”

    The loggerheads will be raised here until they are ready for release into North Carolina’s waters in one to three years. In the meantime, visitors can see them in a new exhibit on the Aquarium’s main exhibit floor.