National Aquarium Helping Endangered Turtles Get Back To Wild

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Staff at the National Aquarium’s sea turtle rehab facility are taking on a national problem by rehabilitating sick or injured sea turtles.

While the exhibit isn’t open to the public, the sea turtle rehab facility is improving the ecosystem and saving the endangered species of reptiles.

“We have 15 sea turtles in rehabilitation, and all species of sea turtles are either threatened or endangered,” said Jennifer Dittmar, manager of animal rescue at the National Aquarium.

These turtles — two green turtles and 13 Kemp’s Ridley turtles — were brought to Baltimore sick and/or injured.

They are examined and nursed back to health, which takes five months, on average.

Each turtles has a number on its back, but the staff likes to keep track of the animals by giving them names, so they vote on a theme to name each turtle.

“Our naming theme this season is Harry Potter characters, and homes, and everything else in the Harry Potter series,” said Dittmar.

So they have “Portkey,” “Dobby,” “Gillyweed,” and, the one and only, “Harry Potter.”

WJZ’s Marcus Washington was able to go down and get a closer look at the sea turtles.

“[Marcus: I’m sure people don’t go down in suits every day.]”

Feeding – which was a ball of lettuce on this day – is done from a distance, and is part of the rehabilitation.

Staff at the National Aquarium limit their physical interaction with the turtles because these are wild animals, and they will all be released back into the wild within a few months.

“We’re not in there tying to make friends with them,” said Dittmar. “They are not part of our collection. So, we need to make sure they keep those wild instincts.”

The goal is simple: Get the sea turtles back out to their natural environment to add to their population.

The endangerment for the turtles comes as their nesting areas are often poached for human food or sold.

The turtles at the National aquarium are all scheduled to be released back into the wild by June.

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