NEWPORT, Ore. – Two stranded sea turtles rescued on the Oregon coast in recent days have died.
Both were olive ridley sea turtles and both were treated at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport.
The first sea turtle, a female named Donatello, stranded on Horsefall Beach in Coos Bay on Wednesday. The turtle had multiple breaks in her shell, blood loss and was suffering from severe “cold stun.” A blood analysis showed there were no signs of infection, but tests indicated her kidneys were not functioning properly. She likely died of kidney failure and other internal injuries.
A second sea turtle stranded in Waldport on Saturday morning during hazardous surf conditions. “While she appeared physically intact, cold-stunning itself takes its toll on the turtle’s internal organs,” said Evonne Mochon-Collura, Oregon Coast Aquarium curator of fish and invertebrates. “As always with animals with sustained injuries, they have a lot of challenges through recovery. We submitted X-rays and blood samples for further analysis to determine her internal condition.”
Cold-stunned sea turtles often have complications that are hard to find and diagnose. Mochon-Collura said the deaths of both turtles had to be confirmed by rigor mortis, as a lack of response and heartbeat through a fetal doppler can confirm “no sign of life,” but not death.
Both turtles will undergo necropsies to determine exact cause of death.
Aquarium officials said that while the odds of successfully rehabilitating stranded sea turtles are low, they will continue their efforts to save injured endangered species in an effort to boost threatened, wild populations.
Sea turtles are not found on Oregon or Washington beaches unless stranded. The Aquarium typically sees these stranded, sick turtles in the winter, possibly due to cold water temperatures, changing currents, and high frequency of harsh storms that wash the hypothermic turtles ashore.
If you find a sea turtle on the beach, note its location, remain nearby to observe it, and contact 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.
The Aquarium is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For more information visit aquarium.org or call (541) 867-3474.