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Stranded and Cold-Stunned, Olive Ridley Turtle Gets a Happier Ending | Newport, Oregon Coast News

Published 12/13/23 at 6:25 p.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Stranded and Cold-Stunned, Olive Ridley Turtle Gets a Happier Ending | Newport, Oregon Coast News

Newport, Oregon – Usually, when a sea turtle strands on the chilly Oregon coast, it does not end well. However, one Olive Ridley turtle that came ashore near Waldport, Oregon a couple of weeks ago looks like it's going to make it after Oregon Coast Aquarium staff rescued it. Not only did it survive the initial stranding – which most don't – but it has improved its condition and is now on the way to SeaWorld San Diego for more rehabilitation and a likely release back into the wild. (Photos Jeremy Burke, Oregon Coast Aquarium)

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Oregon Coast Aquarium's (OCA) Courtney Klug said the turtle made landfall at Beachside State Recreational Site near Waldport, found in a cold-stunned state and with an alarming temperature of 60 degrees. They're supposed to be about 80 degrees.

He was nicknamed Sir Acha for what staff called hi "spicy" personality, Klug said, and required care all hours of the day and night.

“Cold-stunning occurs when sea turtles are exposed to cold temperatures, rendering them weak and inactive,” Klug said. “These turtles are at the mercy of the waves until they wash ashore.”

Staff placed Acha into increasingly warmer baths in order to raise his temperature, doing so gently as to not shock the turtle's system. A variety of tests were done, including bloodwork and x-rays, with the goal of getting him out of triage and into a full rehabilitation at SeaWorld San Diego.

This week, Acha was carefully packed up in a special container, covered in lubrication to prevent dehydration and then strapped into a custom stretcher that keeps him warm.

“Staff wished him the best as they loaded him on board,” Klug said.

His flight from Newport was paid for by the non-profit organization Turtles Fly Too, which has a network of aircraft and volunteer pilots that assist the transport of endangered species.

SeaWorld staff will continue to assess Sir Acha and work toward his eventual release. Olive Ridley sea turtles are currently listed under the Endangered Species Act; the reintroduction of even one turtle is enough to impact the overall population.

"Thanks to the combined efforts of dedicated volunteers and staff, this individual has a second chance at survival," Klug said.

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 800-452-7888 or the Marine Mammal Stranding Network (MMSN) in Oregon, Washington, and California at 1-866-767-6114.

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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