BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The National Aquarium in Baltimore rehabilitates about 100 sea turtles every year, but they do not receive help from the federal government.

“There’s a lot of factors that they’re facing out there in the natural environment,” said Shaffer, Rehabilitation Manager.

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Every year, the National Aquarium spends about $600,000 rescuing and rehabbing the endangered population, which faces a host of problems in its natural environment — many of which happen to be man-made.

“So, we feel anything we can do to help those populations recover is contributing to species conservation for these animals,” said Shaffer.

However, they do not receive any money from the federal government. Instead, they tap into ticket sales and other operating costs. About 50 other organizations are doing the same.

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“The thing we found in our conversations with members of congress, is most people think this is already happening, most people think there’s already grant programs that directly support this work,” said Ryan Fredriksson, VP of Government Affairs.

Fredriksson said that’s why Baltimore’s National Aquarium is leading a nationwide effort to increase federal funding to treat, rehab, and release sea turtles now and for years to come.

“So, what we’re trying to do is directly identify that funding gap and then trying to fill it,” said Fredriksson.

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Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen sent a letter to Congress asking that they create a $5 million pilot program to help with some of these rehabilitation efforts here in Baltimore and at organizations around the country.

Rachel Menitoff