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Rescued turtles get second chance

Seaside Aquarium played role in rehabilitation
By R.J. Marx

The Daily Astorian

Published on September 12, 2017 10:31AM

Last changed on September 14, 2017 10:21AM

Underwater photo of Solstice.

Submitted photo/SeaWorld San Diego

Underwater photo of Solstice.

Lightning, a rescued olive ridley sea turtle, is returned to the ocean by Oregon Coast Aquarium director of animal husbandry Jim Burke and SeaWorld San Diego aquarist Danielle Castillo, 15.

Submitted photo/SeaWorld San Diego

Lightning, a rescued olive ridley sea turtle, is returned to the ocean by Oregon Coast Aquarium director of animal husbandry Jim Burke and SeaWorld San Diego aquarist Danielle Castillo, 15.


Three olive ridley turtles discovered comatose along the Oregon Coast after winter storms in 2016 returned to ocean waters this week.

Solstice, Tucker and Lightning returned to the ocean after treatment at SeaWorld in San Diego. Olive ridley sea turtles are listed on the federal endangered species list as threatened.


Tucker, Lightning and Solstice


Tucker, a male olive ridley turtle between 15 to 20 years of age, was found at Cannon Beach after storms in December 2015. He had a 40-degree body temperature when rescued. Staff at the Seaside Aquarium rescued the male olive ridley sea turtle after it washed ashore south of Tolovana the morning of Dec. 14, likely pushed into colder waters by strong winds, aquarium Administrative Assistant Tiffany Boothe said at the time. Juvenile olive ridleys sometimes travel in warm currents offshore.

Tucker developed severe pneumonia and had to be treated in a hyperbaric chamber because he developed air in his tissue and a buoyancy problem.

He was transferred to the Seattle Aquarium after his initial care then flown to SeaWorld San Diego by the U.S. Coast Guard in April 2016.

Lightning is a female olive ridley turtle named after the storms that stranded in Pacific City, suffering from hypothermia, buoyancy issues and injuries to both eyes.

After treatment at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Lightning, along with Thunder, an olive ridley found in Gearhart, were escorted by the U.S. Coast Guard and a rehabilitation team to SeaWorld in San Diego. Thunder died while completing her final rehabilitation stage before release into the wild.

Solstice, a female olive ridley turtle, was found in Oysterville, Washington, rescued and cared for initially by the Oregon Coast Aquarium in December 2014 and flown to SeaWorld by the Coast Guard in February 2015. She got her name because she was rescued on winter solstice.

Seaside is authorized to receive stranded turtles and hold them until transport can be arranged, Lance Beck of the Oregon Coast Aquarium said Tuesday. If a turtle washes ashore on the north coast of Oregon it is common for Seaside to be one of the first to respond to a report of an animal on the beach. The Oregon Coast Aquarium and Seattle Aquarium are the only two authorized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services facilities in the Pacific Northwest that can provide long term rehabilitation care for sea turtles.

“Unfortunately we do expect to see the trend of turtles standing in the Northwest continue,” Beck said.



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