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Rare loggerhead sea turtle washes up on Oregon Coast

NEWPORT, Ore. - A loggerhead sea turtle found on an Oregon beach Saturday morning died from its injuries, the Oregon Coast Aquarium said Monday.

Seaside Aquarium staff recovered the animal from Crescent Beach in Ecola State Park.

The animal arrived in Newport on Sunday morning.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium is one of only two rehabilitation facilities in the northwest authorized to care for sea turtles. The Seattle Aquarium is next closest facility.

Jim Burke with the Oregon Coast Aquarium said sea turtles are rare on the Oregon Coast - and the loggerhead species is even rarer still.

“Most of the stranded turtles we’ve seen in recent years have been olive ridley and green sea turtles," said Burke, the aquarium's director animal husbandry. "The last loggerhead to arrive alive at the Aquarium was on Christmas Eve 2007, and it also survived only one day.”

Loggerhead, olive ridley and green sea turtles are all considered endangered species.

They all live in warmer waters off of Mexico. Turtles found on Oregon beaches likely followed food or a warm current into colder waters. Stunned by the cold waters, the turtles wash up on Northwest beaches in a coma-like state.

“We hope to learn from this loss but accept that the odds of saving stranded animals are low,” said Burke. “The turtles that strand on our shores are in a compromised state—the water temperature off Newport is in the low 50s this time of year, and these cold-blooded animals prefer water that’s at least twenty degrees warmer.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service asks anyone who finds a sea turtle on the beach to note the location, remain nearby to observe it if possible and contact the Oregon State Police Tipline at 800-452-7888 or the Marine Mammal Stranding Network (MMSN) in Oregon, Washington, and California at 1-866-767-6114.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium plans to conduct a necropsy on the turtle to determined whether internal injuries played a role in its death.

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