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National Aquarium Treating Record Single Intake of Rescue Turtles

Annual cold-stun season patients receive rehabilitation and delectable nicknames


National Aquarium is providing expert care, and playful breakfast-themed names, to a group of 30 Kemp's ridley turtles. This is a record number of animals admitted for rehabilitation at the Aquarium in a single intake.

The patients were transferred from New England Aquarium after stranding in Cape Cod at the very start of cold-stun season. Between December and April, rapidly dropping temperatures or delayed migration can leave animals, like turtles and marine mammals, susceptible to injury or stranding and in need of health care.

Transported by private aircraft through the nonprofit organization, "Turtles Fly Too," the Kemp's ridley turtles were quickly triaged through the Aquarium's animal rescue and animal health teams. They are being treated in the Aquarium's hospital pool for a variety of ailments associated with stranding, including pneumonia and blood chemistry imbalances.

"This record-setting intake was a challenge for our team to logistically provide immediate care for so many turtles at one time, but our team of experts truly rose to the challenge," said Jennifer Dittmar, curator of animal rescue at the National Aquarium. "The increasing number and intensity of cold-stunning events shows the need for both proactive action awareness to protect these animals and expanded response and care teams to help affected animals return to the ocean, two goals that our team at the National Aquarium is proud to support."

Each of the 30 animals received a number and corresponding name to track their individual care and progress toward release. As is tradition, the Aquarium chose a naming theme for this rescue season, celebrating favorite foods from, arguably, the most important meal of the day—breakfast.

National Aquarium members were given a special opportunity to name the first turtle of the season and dubbed number 64 "Waffles". The remaining 29 animals add the makings of a full morning spread, including Bacon, Flapjack and Benedict.

In addition to preparing these newly-named reptiles for release in the coming months, the organization is providing long-term rehabilitation to two loggerhead turtles transferred from the Virginia Aquarium, named Dandelion and Canuck, and is on call to provide care to stranded marine mammals.

National Aquarium Animal Rescue is a member of the Greater Atlantic Region Stranding Network (GARS) and collaborates with aquariums and national organizations along the East Coast to respond to animals in need. Volunteers and staff have dedicated tens of thousands of hours in the last 26 years to these efforts.

In 2018, the organization's Animal Care and Rescue Center in Baltimore City's Jonestown neighborhood will provide a new home for animal rescue operations, in addition to animal quarantine and exhibit design.