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Baltimore’s National Aquarium Helps Save Rare Sea Turtle

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KEMPS SEA TURTLE

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The race to save the rarest sea turtle on the planet comes to Baltimore. Hunters, pollution and fishing nets have almost eliminated the Kemp’s sea turtle.

Adam May reports how the weather almost killed more.

Five critically endangered Kemp’s sea turtles at the National Aquarium in Baltimore are getting a second chance at life after they were caught in a quick cool down off the coast of New England–and washed ashore, barely alive

“Cold stunning in turtles is the equivalent of hypothermia in humans,” said Jennifer Dittmar, National Aquarium standing coordinator. ”Their body temperature drops quickly, and it can open them up to other secondary infections.”

These turtles are some of 200 that were late migrating south. So they were flown to rescue programs, stabilized with drugs and slowly warmed 5 degrees a day.

 “Usually they have different rooms set up at different temperatures and they just keep them dry in a box,” Dittmar said. “Since turtles breathe air, they can be dry docked in a box.  They don’t necessarily need to be in water all the time.”

 Many of the underweight turtles are recovering from scratches to their soft tissue. Some also have pneumonia. But the aquarium is optimistic about recovery, hoping they’ll be released to the wild this summer.

 Kemp’s sea turtles are the smallest of eight sea turtle varieties. And the aquarium will soon have a few more. Officials say they’re getting six more turtle for a total of 11.

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