Aquarium: Sea turtle rescued from Oregon beach found dead in SeaWorld rehab pool

Thunder swims in her rehabilitation pool at the Oregon Coast Aquarium after being found comatose on an Oregon beach. (Photo courtesy Oregon Coast Aquarium)

NEWPORT, Ore. - One of two endangered sea turtles transported from the Oregon Coast Aquarium to Sea World in San Diego has died, aquarium staff said.

"It is with great sadness that we report of the death of Thunder, the rescued olive ridley sea turtle found comatose and cold stunned on a beach in Oregon in December," the aquarium said in a press release. "She was discovered in her rehabilitation pool Tuesday morning (April 12) by park aquarists. Thunder was one of two turtles flown to SeaWorld on March 30 from the Oregon Coast Aquarium where she was initially cared for following her rescue."

The aquarium said the initial necropsy indicated degenerative issues with various internal organs including the liver and heart, and there were signs that Thunder was no longer digesting food.

"This news saddens us but we remain hopeful for Lightning's release back into the wild this summer," said Jim Burke, the Oregon Coast Aquarium's Director of Animal Husbandry. "We hope to learn from this loss but accept that the odds of saving stranded animals are low. Our team will continue efforts to save injured threatened and endangered species for the chance of boosting their low populations."

Lightning, the other olive ridley sea turtle rescued on the Oregon coast and transported to SeaWorld with Thunder, remains in stable condition and is continuing her recovery at the park's Animal Rescue Center, the aquarium said.

"The passing of any animal is sad for our SeaWorld zoological team," said Mike Price, SeaWorld San Diego's assistant curator of fishes. "While the rehabilitation of cold-stunned sea turtles is a long and difficult process fraught with complications, we were hopeful that Thunder could have a had a second chance at life. We continue to provide rehabilitative care to Lightning."

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