Turkey, the sea turtle rescued off the coast of Washington just before Thanksgiving, has died, the Oregon Coast Aquarium announced Friday.
The malnourished and hypothermic sea turtle arrived in Newport shortly after midnight Nov. 24 with a temperature of 59 degrees, which is below the 75-degree normal. Aquarium personnel estimated she hadn’t eaten in a month, maybe more.
In a blog post detailing efforts to rehabilitate the olive ridley sea turtle, aquarium personnel say Turkey ate inconsistently over the month and a half personnel worked with her. Aquarists would offer Turkey food three times a day but she would often eat little more than a bite of shrimp.
In early January, she stopped eating completely. An X-ray showed a mass had developed, likely caused by a bacterial infection.
Aquarium personnel had a tough time diagnosing Turkey because of her slow inner processes, as Director of Animal Husbandry Director Jim Burke said in the aquarium blog.
“The animals are slow to get sick and slow to recover,” he said. “Turkey arrived in such bad shape that a mammal in the same condition would have died a long time ago.”
Turkey died on Jan. 8.
When she was discovered by an Oregon couple on the coast in Cape Disappointment, the sea turtle had been “cold stunned.”
Aquarium personnel were hopeful when Turkey was transferred to a shallow pool shortly after arriving in Newport. But even then, she was noted as being lethargic and slow to eat.
Sea turtles make their habitats in warmer southern waters. But shifting currents or storms can sweep the shelled reptiles into colder regions. In response to the lowered temperatures, the animal’s heart rate and circulation slow, preventing them from searching for food.
Turkey, an olive ridley, belonged to one of the two most common sea turtle species found on the Oregon coast. The other is the Pacific green sea turtle. Both are protected under the Endangered Species Act.
–Eder Campuzano | 503.221.4344