Storm Lashes Second Warm Water Turtle Onto Oregon Coast Beach
Published 12/14/2015 at 4:13 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff
(Canon Beach, Oregon) - Yet another Olive Ridley sea turtle was recovered from an Oregon coast beach today (Monday) – the second in less than a week. Storms haven't been kind to the creatures, with one found in Pacific City earlier this week and taken to the Oregon Coast Aquarium. (Photos by Tiffany Boothe, Seaside Aquarium).
The latest was rescued from the south end of Cannon Beach today by the Seaside Aquarium.
The aquarium's Tiffany Boothe said staff were notified and arrived on scene at 8:30 a.m. The turtle was hypodermic but still alive.
“After getting the turtle stabilized it was transferred to the Seattle Aquarium, where if all goes well, will be rehab'ed and sent down to California and released back into the wild,” Boothe said.
Boothe said there is the possibility there could be more. Imagine the scenario where you're engaged in wintry beachcombing and something startling happens.
“While perusing the beach for treasures, you might suddenly come across something large that you don’t quite recognize,” Boothe said. “A rock, perhaps? Then it hits you; this 'large rock' is actually a 50 pound sea turtle. Unbeknownst to most, during the winter, cold-shocked sea turtles can become stranded on our beaches. Reports of stranded turtles can begin as early as mid-October and can continue through January.”
Sea turtles follow food sources and offshore warm water currents, Boothe said. Weather conditions (such as a long, constant string of south-southwesterly winds) can drive the warm water current - and therefore the turtles - farther north and closer to shore than normal. When these weather change, the warm current dissipate quickly and the turtles find themselves trapped in the colder waters of the natural currents running along the Oregon and Washington coasts.
When this happens, their bodies slow down and they become hypothermic. Those that can make it to shore ‘haul’ out to get out of the cold water, but the winter conditions on the beach are rarely more hospitable.
If you find a sea turtle on the beach, it's often difficult to determine if it's dead or alive.
“A turtle suffering from extreme hypothermia can be unresponsive to touch and have a heartbeat so slow and weak that it is difficult to detect,” Boothe said. “Most sea turtles found on Oregon and Washington shores do not survive, even if found and recovered quickly.”
Below: more Olive Ridley photos from Seaside Aquarium in past years
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