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Two Olive Ridley Sea Turtles Found Barely Alive on Oregon Coast

Published 10/28/21 at 12:59 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Two Olive Ridley Sea Turtles Found Barely Alive on Oregon Coast

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(Hammond, Oregon) – Both the Seaside Aquarium and the Oregon Coast Aquarium were dealing with stranded Olive Ridley turtles found on Oregon beaches Wednesday, far from their home in water waters south of the border. (Photo courtesy Samuel Gardner)

Seaside Aquarium, part of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network on the north Oregon coast, received a call about one of these lovely green giants found about a mile north of the Wreck of the Peter Iredale. The aquarium's Tiffany Boothe said Samuel K. Gardner discovered the creature in the surf, and it appeared dead at the time.

“Shortly after finding the animal Samuel realized that it was still alive and contacted Seaside Aquarium,” Boothe said. “Samuel was soon joined by Alec and Corinne Reeves who just happened to be walking on the beach.”

Together, the trio hauled it out of the surf as they realized it was an incoming tide, and one that was engulfing the turtle rather quickly. Boothe said aquarium staff was gearing up for some heavy surf as well.

“As the tide continued to come in and the surf raged up the beach, Samuel and Alec decided that it would be best to get the turtle to a more secure location,” she said. “Usually, it is best not to move a sea turtle until responders arrive but in this case it was necessary if the turtle was going to survive. Samuel and Alec carried the turtle over a mile and were able to meet up with the responding staff from Seaside Aquarium.”

(Photo courtesy Samuel Gardner)

Staff from the aquarium quickly loaded up the turtle and took it back to the facility, where it was evaluated and then readied for transport down to Newport's Oregon Coast Aquarium. Boothe said the turtle was clearly cold-stunned, meaning it had the turtle version of hypothermia.

The turtle was about 50 pounds and Boothe said it was one of the more active sea turtles they've dealt with in recent years, which is a good sign.

Thirty minutes later, the Newport facility called to let staff know they were ready to receive it, and that another cold-stunned sea turtle found on the Oregon coast was on its way to Newport as well.

“Staff from the Seaside Aquarium drove the turtle down to the Oregon Coast Aquarium, one of two licensed rehab facilities for sea turtles in the Pacific Northwest; the other facility is the Seattle Aquarium,” Boothe said. “While we are all hopeful for the recovery and release, everyone involved knows that this turtle has a long road ahead.”

This is the time of year when cold-stunned turtles are stranded on the Oregon coast and Washington coast, and the public is asked to keep a lookout for them and call authorities if you find one.

Being cold-stunned is common in these cases, and most sea turtles found on northwest beaches are no longer alive. The effects of this can be malnourishment, susceptibility to external injuries, and organ damage, according to Oregon Coast Aquarium.

If they are found alive they often don't last long. But some survive and are released back into the wild.

What often happens is that a sea turtle does not make it back to warmer waters in time as they migrate south, or they get lost tracing warm water currents going northward and they hit the cold waters of the Oregon and Washington coast.

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Photo courtesy Corinne Reeves

Photo Seaside Aquarium

A previous Olive Ridley turtle, found last year - courtesy Seaside Aquarium

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