Cold-stunned sea turtle warms up at Oregon Coast Aquarium


The endangered loggerhead turtle will undergo rehabilitation at SeaWorld San Diego

OCAq Aquarists secure the turtle in a custom-made stretcher designed to keep the animal warm and secure during transport. (Oregon Coast Aquarium)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A sea turtle found stranded and dangerously cold along the Oregon Coast has been given a second shot at life.

The young adult female loggerhead turtle was found earlier this month on Nelscott Beach near Lincoln City, the Oregon Coast Aquarium said. The Marine Mammal Stranding Network helped get the turtle to the aquarium, where experts leaped into action to try to save its life.

Most turtles stranded on the Oregon Coast are stunned by the cold ocean water and this was no exception: the aquarium said this turtle’s body temperature was 50 degrees. A healthy temperature for a turtle is about 75 degrees.

Bringing a turtle back to a safe temperature is a delicate process. Using water baths, the Oregon Coast Aquarium slowly raised this turtle’s temperature by about five degrees per day and monitored its progress around-the-clock. They took blood samples and X-rays and as the turtle warmed up, she started to get her appetite back.

At that point, experts decided she was ready for the next steps in returning to normal life. With the help of the non-profit organization Turtle Fly Too, the turtle was flown to SeaWorld San Diego where she could continue being rehabilitated in a large outdoor pool. She will continue to be monitored with the goal of being released back into the wild.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium said the odds of saving a stranded turtle are often low and the successful rescue of even one endangered loggerhead turtle is a win for the entire species.

If you find a sea turtle on the beach, experts say you should note its location, stay nearby to observe it and then contact the Oregon State Police tipline at 800.452.7888 or the Marine Mammal Stranding Network at 1.866.767.6114.

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