PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Despite rehabilitation efforts, two female Olive Ridley sea turtles found stranded along Oregon beaches died in recent weeks.
The aquarium said Thursday one turtle was found on a beach in Lincoln City earlier in the week. The Marine Mammal Stranding Network took the turtle to the aquarium where it could receive emergency care, but it died shortly after its arrival.
Aquarium staff said the turtle was hypothermic and severely emaciated.
The second turtle was found in early October, also near Lincoln City. Oregon State Police took it to the aquarium where it died within hours. Staff said it was weak and cold-stunned, which is common for stranded turtles.
Saving cold-stunned sea turtles is a tricky process for wildlife experts. Turtles found in this state are often already malnourished, may have organ damage and external injuries. Raising their temperature must be done very slowly to avoid shocking their systems.
Sea turtle can become stranded before winter sets in if they fail to migrate back to warmer waters before temperatures drop. However, the aquarium said turtles are more likely to become stranded during winter when the ocean is at its most violent. Currents can push turtles too far north where they’re stunned by cold waters which prevents them from eating or finding their way back. They must then wait to be washed ashore.
The Oregon Coast Aquarium cares for stranded sea turtles with the goal of releasing them back into the wild.
If you find a sea turtle on the beach, stay in the area and 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.