BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The National Aquarium has rehabilitated and returned 15 young sea turtles to their natural habitat off the coast of Florida.
The turtles have been at the aquarium since November after they were found cold-stunned off the coast of Massachusetts, according to aquarium staff.
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Sea you later! Fifteen of the cold-stunned turtles that arrived at the Aquarium in November have made a full recovery and were returned to their ocean home in Florida today at our first release of 2022! pic.twitter.com/iqAjDMbKWk
— National Aquarium (@NatlAquarium) March 1, 2022
During their stay, the juvenile turtles were treated for various ailments that are commonly associated with cold-stunning, such as pneumonia, dehydration, emaciation, shell lesions, skin lesions, eye lesions, and blood infections, staff said.
Aquarium staff named the turtles—13 Kemp’s ridley sea turtles and two green sea turtles—after musical instruments.
The band of turtles consisted of Piccolo, Trumpet, Viola, Kazoo, Harp, Xylophone, Fiddle, Maraca, Harmonica, Clarinet, Flute, Castanets, Bongo, Banjo, Cornet, according to aquarium staff.
Cornet, one of the green sea turtles, made a successful recovery after passing plastic debris.
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“We are ecstatic that Cornet made a successful recovery, but unfortunately, the threat of plastic pollution isn’t over for him or any of these turtles as they migrate along east coast waters,” National Aquarium Animal Rescue Director Jennifer Dittmar said. “Marine debris continues to be a growing concern for the safety of sea turtles as they migrate along the waters of the east coast. Cornet’s case serves as a stark reminder of why the National Aquarium works to advocate for the elimination of single-use plastics and the removal of plastic pollution from waterways and wetlands.”
The Animal Rescue program responds to stranded marine mammals and sea turtles along the nearly 3,190 miles of Maryland coast, aquarium staff said. The program works with partners through the Greater Atlantic Region Stranding Network to help respond, rescue, and release animals year-round.
Plastic pollution, climate change, and the impact of other human activities impact the ability of sea turtles to recover. Organizations that make up the Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network are facing increasing demands to respond to and rehabilitate stranded sea turtles, according to aquarium staff.
The National Aquarium helped coordinate the release of 14 turtles that were rescued and rehabilitated by the New England Aquarium, the New York Marine Rescue Center, and the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society, staff said.
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The cold-stunned turtle rescue season begins in November when water and air temperatures drop in the Greater Atlantic Region, aquarium staff said.