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One week into her rehabilitation at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, “Solstice” a distressed olive ridley turtle, is showing slight signs of improvement.
Solstice, whose stranding coincided with the winter solstice, was found hypothermic and dehydrated on a beach in Oysterville, Washington. Her location alone indicated something was amiss, as the Pacific Northwest has much colder water and is far north of this species’ typical range.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service transferred the turtle to the Aquarium where it arrived for rehabilitation the evening of Monday, December 22. The Aquarium is one of the few facilities in the Northwest able to provide the specialized care this animal requires.
At 41.5 pounds, Solstice is considered a teenager. Her gender and age make her an exceptional patient. Olive ridley turtles are classified as endangered and her recovery is important to the future success of her species.
The Aquarium’s team is working around the clock to administer fluids and slowly raise the 41.5 pound turtle’s body temperature. At this point, the aquarists caring for Solstice are cautiously hopeful for her recovery.
“Initial blood tests indicated that she had no sign of infection and is stronger than many turtles the Aquarium has received in the past,” said Jim Burke, the Aquarium’s Director of Animal Husbandry. “Her body temperature has increased 12 degrees Fahrenheit since she arrived in Newport, and we hope to stabilize at her target temperature of 75 degrees in the next few days.”
The turtle’s journey through recovery is just beginning; there is still a significant chance she may not make it. If she does, she will need several months of rehabilitation before she is healthy enough to be released in her warmer, native waters to the south.
Caring for wild, distressed animals is an important part of the Aquarium’s mission. According to Burke, “Through wildlife rehabilitation, we humanely help suffering animals. In the case of threatened and endangered species, we also hope to boost these critical populations in their recovery.”
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service urges anyone who finds a sea turtle on the beach to contact the Oregon State Police Wildlife Hotline at (800) 452-7888 to ensure appropriate transport and care of the animal.