End of Year Roundup: Rescue Turtles

National Aquarium Animal Rescue released 95 rehabilitated sea turtles back to their ocean home in 2018!

Published December 20, 2018

The 2017-2018 rescue season kicked off last November, when 30 rescue sea turtles arrived at the Aquarium after stranding on the beaches of New England. This group of rescue turtles was suffering from ailments commonly related to cold-stunning, including pneumonia and blood chemistry imbalances.


Shortly after admitting this first group of rescue turtles, we revealed that the naming theme for the year was breakfast food! As you could imagine, this made for some pretty adorable turtle nicknames—including Waffles, Bagel, Coffee, Yogurt and Cinnamon Bun.

By the time 2018 rolled around, some of our rescue patients had gained enough strength and weight to get cleared for release! In January, our Animal Rescue team traveled to Canaveral National Seashore in Florida, where 18 sea turtles, including four Kemp’s ridleys and one loggerhead that completed rehabilitation at the Aquarium, were released back into the Atlantic Ocean. The remaining turtles were cared for by other regional rehabilitation facilities.

The second rescue turtle release of 2018 took place in February, once again from Canaveral National Seashore. This time, 34 turtles were released back into the ocean, including 13 Kemp’s ridley turtles that were rehabilitated here at the Aquarium.

Turtle release

Our April turtle release also took place in Florida, but from Little Talbot Island in Jacksonville. This was our biggest release ever, with 36 turtles returning back to the waters of the Atlantic! Out of the 36 turtles released, 14 were Kemp’s ridleys rehabilitated at the Aquarium, including Waffles!

After the April release, our Animal Health team was left caring for four remaining rescue turtles. By the time June rolled around, these turtles had completed their rehabilitation and were transported to Ocean City, Maryland, for a local release! Joined by a crowd of almost 400 onlookers, one loggerhead sea turtle—nicknamed Canuck—and three Kemp’s ridley sea turtles made their way back into the ocean. The Aquarium was joined by members from Sea Turtle Recovery, a sea turtle rehabilitation center in New Jersey, who released an additional three Kemp’s ridley sea turtles.

As we close out 2018, next year’s rescue season has already begun! Last month, 30 Kemp’s ridley and two green sea turtles arrived at the Aquarium from Massachusetts.

Learn more about the rescue turtle patients currently in our care!

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