Stranded Olive Ridley Turtle Found On Oregon Beach

November 28, 2017

A couple strolling an Oregon beach on Thanksgiving day happened upon a stranded olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea). 

Beaverton, Ore. residents Chad and Mickey Heidt were walking along Benson Beach at Cape Disappointment State Park when they happened upon the emaciated and sickly looking turtle. 

“I knew there was a major sensitivity to time, so we hurried to contact someone who could help,” Chad Heidt said on the Oregon Coast Aquarium blog. 

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The Heidt’s contacted the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, which worked with Seaside Aquarium staff and a Washington park ranger to transfer the turtle. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service was notified, and Laura Todd of the USFWS retrieved the turtle and transported it to the Oregon Coast Aquarium.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium is the only rehabilitation facility in the state authorized by USFWS to provide the necessary and highly specialized care these reptiles require.

“Today we are especially thankful for the dedication from all parties involved given the short notice on a holiday,” Jim Burke, Director of Animal Husbandry at the Oregon Coast Aquarium said at the time of the rescue. “Our staff will perform x-rays today and continue to monitor the sea turtle’s condition. Although we are always uncertain of the outcome when we receive extremely sick animals, we are hopeful for this turtle’s successful rehabilitation.”

The turtle came in with a body temperature of 59 degees Fahrenheit, well below the normal body temperature of 75 degrees for this species, the aquarium wrote on its blog. The turtle was extremely emaciated and had most likely been unable to dive for an extended period of time. 

The aquarium noted that with winter approaching, sea turtle strandings will probably be a bit more common. If you happen upon a stranded sea turtle, the aquarium urges you to call the Oregon State Police Tipline at 800-452-7888 or the Marine Mammal Stranding Network in Oregon, Washington, and California at 1-866-767-6114. Note where the turtle is located and if possible, stay with it until authorities arrive. 

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