Loggerhead Turtle 021517

Loggerhead Turtle

By Wendi Agalzof-LaRue

Swimming with sea turtles is not common on the Oregon Coast, but in order to rescue a beached turtle, sea life experts had to submerge in the Pacific Ocean’s icy winter waters.  Saturday afternoon of February 11th, 2017 Seaside Aquarium staff were called out to retrieve a stranded loggerhead turtle.  Cold-shocked and sluggish, the turtle was on Crescent Beach after the latest winter storm.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photos by Seaside Aquarium Staff

Crescent Beach can be accessed by hiking a 1.5 mile trail from Ecola State Park.  Seaside Aquarium hiked down to the turtle, but due to trail conditions were unable to transport the turtle safely back to the State Park parking lot.  In order to retrieve the turtle, aquarium staff with the assistance of a helpful couple, decided the safest option was to float the turtle through a small cave-like crack to a truck parked at Chapman Point.  The idea was to wade the turtle across, however there was a short span where dedicated aquarium staff had to swim the turtle to the other side.  Onlookers watched as a 50 pound turtle emerged on a board from the cave’s entrance and was quickly wrapped in blankets and towels to begin the slow process of bringing the turtle’s body temperature back up.

After spending the night in Seaside, the turtle was transported to the incredible Oregon Coast Aquarium where staff have a history of successfully rehabilitating turtles over the past few years.  Only a small percent of stranded turtles are able to survive.  Typically, when turtles are displaced out of the warm California winter current during storm conditions, then wash up on beaches, there is an underlying health issue compromising the turtle before it becomes hypothermic and lethargic.  An indicator that the turtle had been compromised before beaching is the accumulation of growths on the shell, which this particular loggerhead had significant amounts of.

Though the staff from both Seaside and Oregon Coast Aquariums gave the turtle its best chance for survival, the turtle passed away early Monday February 13th.  Oregon Coast Aquarium will be conducting a necropsy to help determine if there was an underlying condition that affected this turtle. Click here for video showing the Seaside Aquarium caring for the rescued turtle.

Photos by Seaside Aquarium Staff

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