Sea turtles found lost on Oregon Coast die

NEWPORT, Ore. - Two endangered sea turtles rescued from a ferocious Oregon surf on Monday succumbed to their predicament Thursday, the Oregon Coast Aquarium said.

Found foundering in the surf near Seaside and Gearhart, the shelled duo first took refuge at the aquarium in Seaside before moving to the custody of aquarists in Newport.

These are at least the second and third turtles of normal tropical origin to land on the Oregon Coast in 2012.

The Olive Ridley turtle never recovered from cold shock and was unresponsive from the moment it arrived at the Oregon Coast Aquarium with very little to no detectable signs of life.  Veterinarians pronounced the animal dead late Wednesday night.

The Green Sea Turtle was extremely dehydrated and in cold shock but was responsive.  It also had numerous shell and skull wounds. 

“We had a lot of hope that the Green Sea Turtle could pull through,” said Jim Burke, Director of Animal Husbandry at the Aquarium. “However, as we were able to warm the animal up it became apparent the wounds were much more serious.  We maintained a 24-hour watch and attempted to stabilize the animal but eventually the turtle died early Thursday morning.” 
 
The next step for staff will be performing a full necropsy in the near future on both animals to determine the cause of death. 

“We will be looking for plastic in the gastrointestinal tract which may be a result of ingesting of marine debris.  Other tests will look for signs of pneumonia due to extending periods of hypothermia caused by exposure to cold water and damage from the intense storm and pounding ocean,” Burke said.  

The Oregon Coast Aquarium’s animal care staff continues to work with the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife and NOAA to best prepare for the next animal that needs assistance. The agencies urge anyone who finds a sea turtle on the beach to contact the Oregon State Police Wildlife Hotline at 1-800-452-7888 to ensure appropriate transport and care of the animal.

“It is unfortunate these animals didn’t make it.  Rehabilitation of a wild animal is a challenging process and I am pleased we could give these turtles the best chance possible for survival,” said Carrie Lewis, CEO at the Oregon Coast Aquarium.