• Endangered sea turtle beaches at Hopkins Marine

    By Peter Mounteer

    Last Wednesday, October 5th, Pacific Grove received an unlikely visit from an unlikely visitor, an adult Olive Ridley sea turtle that typically inhabits warm coastal waters. Although sea turtles occasionally visit Monterey Bay (most typically leatherback sea turtles that can withstand cold California waters) an Olive Ridley has “never been sighted ashore” on the central coast, according to Scott Kathey of NOAA.

    Sea turtles spend the majority of their lives in the water, only coming ashore to lay eggs. The Olive Ridley that came ashore on Wednesday—its gender has yet to be confirmed—is not here to nest, as its typical nesting grounds are only as far north as Mexico. According to Kathey, the turtle most likely was lured North in an unusual eddy of warm water that brushed California’s central coast.

    The 72 pound Olive Ridley arrived ashore—conveniently—at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, just around the corner from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where it is currently being cared for.

    Dr. Mike Murray, a veterinarian with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, is in charge of rehabilitating the sea turtle. “The animal is underweight and dehydrated,” he said, “potentially due to illness.” The Olive Ridley is being cared for in a heated 78-degree holding tank out of the view of the public eye. Dr. Murray confirmed that the animal will not be used for aquarium display at any point in time. Murray also said that the turtle is being given antibiotics and supportive therapy in order to restore its health and will likely remain at the aquarium under his care for an unknown number of weeks depending upon its response to rehabilitative treatment. A potential release site has not yet been chosen.

    Last Wednesday’s rescue marks the fourth turtle rescue in the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s 27 year history and the first since 2005.

    The Olive Ridley sea turtle is classified “endangered” by the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a categorization most likely the result of a high frequency of egg collecting on nesting beaches and turtle hunting by humans throughout the world.

    Dr, Mike Murray, a veterinarian with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, lifts the stranded Ridley sea turtle. The turtle is under Dr. Murray's care now at the Aquarium. Photo by Bob Yerena of NOAA

     

    posted to Cedar Street Times on October 7, 2011

    Topics: Breaking News, Current Edition, Front PG News, Green

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