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Aquarium of the Pacific Helps Endangered Sea Turtle After Its Rescue

Aquarium staff members performed surgery on the turtle and are caring for it behind the scenes as it recovers

side view of rescued sea turtle swimming in bright aquamarine water

Credit: Robin Riggs

February 20, 2024

February 20, 2024, Long Beach, California—An endangered green sea turtle was rescued near Avila Beach, California, on December 11, 2023 by The Marine Mammal Center’s San Luis Obispo Operations based in Morro Bay, California. The turtle was transferred to the Aquarium of the Pacific where its veterinary and animal husbandry staff performed surgery and are caring for the sea turtle behind the scenes as it recovers.

“The rescued sea turtle did great with the surgery on its injured front flipper and is healing and eating well. The goal is to be able to release the turtle back into the wild later this year once it has made its full recovery and ocean conditions are ideal,” said Dr. Lance Adams, Aquarium of the Pacific veterinarian.

The sea turtle is approximately 16 inches in length and weighs around 21.6 pounds. It is a subadult and is estimated to be between three and five years old. “We prepare restaurant-quality seafood and greens for the rescued turtle every day. We have found that the turtle really likes its protein over its greens and also prefers to eat fish over shellfish like clams. The food it eats contains important vitamins and nutrients to help it continue to get stronger,” said Stacy Hammond, Aquarium of the Pacific aquarist.

The Marine Mammal Center in Morro Bay transferred the rescued sea turtle to the Aquarium with authorization from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Fisheries office for a medical evaluation, surgery, and care because of the Aquarium’s expertise in treating and releasing stranded and injured sea turtles.

The Aquarium of the Pacific has rehabilitated and released sea turtles since 2000. Some have been fitted with satellite tracking devices that allowed scientists to gather data about their migration patterns and habitats.