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Female sea turtles continue recovery at Oregon Coast Aquarium

The turtle, nicknamed Lightning, started her recovery in very shallow water, sleeping in as little as 2 inches overnight to ensure she could breathe if she fell into a deep sleep, according to aquarium staff. (Oregon Coast Aquarium Photo)

NEWPORT, Ore. - Two endangered female sea turtles found washed up on the Oregon Coast in December continue to show signs of improvement, according to staff at the Oregon Coast Aquarium.

A third endangered olive ridley sea turtle, a male, succumbed to his injuries two days after arriving at the aquarium, staff said.

All three tropical reptiles were found in coma-like states after getting stuck in cold ocean waters.

Sea turtles found on Northwest beaches require immediate emergency veterinary care, according to wildlife and aquarium officials.

  • SEE A TURTLE ON THE OREGON COAST? Call Oregon State Police Wildlife Hotline at (800) 452-7888

The aquarium in Newport is one of only two sites in the Pacific Northwest that can provide this kind of care to sea turtles.

Aquariasts at Newport can care for up to 3 turtles at a time, although the work is done on top of their other duties at the aquarium, Miller said. That means aquarium staff put in extra hours over the holidays caring for the endangered turtles.


Turtle found December 10

One of the survivors, named Lightning for the electrical storm December 10 in which she washed ashore, continues to show improvement. She has now reached her ideal body temperature of 75 degrees, according to Erin Miller with the Oregon Coast Aquarium.

Miller said Lightning is eating food and passing waste, two good signs that she will be a good candidate for longer term care facility and even release back into the wild in the warmer waters off southern California.

"She is a very active little turtle," Miller said. "She zooms around her tank all the time."

The sub-adult turtle's right eye is healing. Her left eye appears to have been injured earlier in life, Miller said.

Two turtles found December 21

The aquarium staff has named the adult female turtle found on Del Rey on December 21 "Thunder."

The 82 pound turtle's body temperature was only 52 degrees when she arrived, Miller said.

Thunder has warmed up to 70 degrees.

"We're hoping as she gets more energy, she'll be interested in food," Miller said.

The other turtle found December 21 on a beach in southwest Washington died on December 23, Miller said. The male never emerged from his comatose state. A necropsy determined he died as a result of being too cold for too long.

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