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Two Stranded Turtles on Oregon Coast - One With 'Miracle' Surprise

Published 02/25/21 at 6:26 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Two Stranded Turtles on Oregon Coast - One With Surprises

(Newport, Oregon) – As if the ocean is again providing proof this is stranded turtle season, two loggerhead turtles were found on the Oregon coast within two weeks. Both had different endings, in spite of a strangely “miraculous” turn with one find. (Photo above courtesy Seaside Aquarium: Wednesday's loggerhead turtle in Rockaway Beach)

The first loggerhead turtle stranded on the central Oregon coast last week in the Lincoln City area. As with most turtle strandings in the Pacific Northwest, it was a case of the animal getting caught up in colder waters, then losing the ability to eat or move. Cold-stunned turtles are at the mercy of the waves until they wash ashore.

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This happens because they are following warm water currents northward and then the currents stop somewhere on this coastline.

Oregon Coast Aquarium was called about the turtle in the Nelscott section of town, and the aquarium’s Curator of Fish and Invertebrates Evonne Mochon-Collura responded. She called Jim Rice of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, who stationed a volunteer to manage the area until he picked the animal up and brought it to the Aquarium for triage.

OCA said during standard triage protocols, it was determined that the turtle was a sub-adult female. Her temperature registered as 50°F. A healthy temperature for a turtle is around 75°F.


Loggerhead turtle at Oregon Coast Aquarium / courtesy photo

The turtle’s temperature was gradually raised about five degrees per day to avoid a shock to its system. Blood samples and x-rays were taken to assess the turtle’s internal status. As the turtle’s temperature increased, she displayed signs of stability, including increased mobility and appetite.

The next step in care involved transportation to a non-profit organization called Turtles Fly Too and its connections. The network’s mission is to coordinate and facilitate the use of general aviation to transport endangered species, critical response teams, and to educate the community on marine life conservation. First, however, the loggerhead needed to go through San Diego’s Sea World.

Before transport, the loggerhead was given a final exam, covered in lubricant to prevent dehydration, and strapped into a custom stretcher and crate designed to keep her warm and secure.

As the plane took flight, the team waved goodbye.

“I just received a video from SeaWorld San Diego,” said Mochon-Collura. “The loggerhead is swimming in their large outdoor pool - a successful triage and transport.”

While that turtle has had a happy ending, the latest turtle found in Rockaway Beach did not, even after what crews called a “miracle” of sorts.

Seaside Aquarium responded to the call early on Wednesday morning. The aquarium’s Tiffany Boothe said upon arrival they discovered that it was an immature loggerhead sea turtle.

“The turtle was unresponsive and was presumed dead,” Boothe said.

However, things took a strange turn: the sun came out and revived it.

“It can be difficult to determine if a cold-stunned sea turtle is still alive,” Boothe said. “Their heart rate may drop to one beat per minute, so we look for small movements in the turtle’s eyes or head. This turtle showed none of the typical signs indicating that it was still alive. Staff from the Seaside Aquarium recovered the sea turtle so that it could be necropsied, and cause of death determined. Miraculously, the sun came out and slowly warmed up the cold-stunned sea turtle, which then began to show signs of life by twitching its eyes and slowly moving its head up and down.”

Seaside Aquarium staff quickly prepared the turtle for travel, and Boothe spent the remainder of the day driving it down to Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, where it would hopefully see the same kind of recovery the previous loggerhead experienced.

However, earlier Thursday Boothe announced the turtle had died down in Newport.

“We are sad to report that, despite everyone’s best efforts, the little loggerhead did not make it,” she said. MORE PHOTOS BELOW

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Photo courtesy Oregon Coast Aquarium


Photo Seaside Aquarium

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