Thursday, 27 September 2012

7-foot-long leatherback sea turtle released off coast of Harwich Saturday after 2 days of care

A 655-pound leatherback sea turtle that had been stranded in thick mud in Truro Wednesday night was released off the coast of Harwich Port Saturday morning, New England Aquarium officials said.

A Massachusetts Audubon Society staff member spotted the 7-foot long black male turtle in Pamet Harbor Wednesday night, as high tide approached, said Connie Merigo, the aquarium’s rescue director.

Aquarium staff and volunteers, along with Audubon Society and International Fund for Animal Welfare staff, brought the turtle to the aquarium’s Animal Care Center in Quincy near dawn Thursday.

The sea turtle was about 100 pounds underweight, had low blood sugar, and an older injury on his front right fin, Merigo said.

“When he first got here he was fairly lethargic, especially out of the water,” head veterinarian Dr. Charles Innis said.

The turtle, which aquarium staff members did not name, was given an injectable sugar solution, vitamin and mineral supplements, steroids, and antibiotics to stave off infection, Innis said.

“We were fairly aggressive with this turtle because we have not been successful the last two leatherbacks we’ve had,” Innis said.

In the last 40 years, the New England Aquarium has only encountered four other leatherback turtles on shore. One, found in Chatham, was released and likely died shortly after. Another died on the beach as Aquarium workers tried to care for it.


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