NEWPORT, Ore. — Two olive ridley sea turtles found beached on the Oregon coast and rescued by good Samaritans in two separate incidents have died after being handed into the care of the Oregon Coast Aquarium, the Aquarium said in a statement on Monday.
The first turtle, dubbed Donatello, was discovered on Horsefall Beach in Coos Bay last Wednesday.
"The female olive ridley suffered from multiple breaks in her shell, blood-loss and severe cold-stun. While initial blood analysis showed no signs of infection, additional testing revealed severely compromised kidneys. Donatello likely succumbed to that and potentially other internal issues related to cold stun," the Aquarium said.
The second sea turtle, also a female olive ridley, was found stranded in Waldport on Saturday morning amidst crashing waves.
“While she appeared physically intact, cold-stunning itself takes its toll on the turtle’s internal organs,” said Evonne Mochon-Collura, Oregon Coast Aquarium Curator of Fish and Invertebrates. “As always with animals with sustained injuries, they have a lot of challenges through recovery. We submitted X-rays and blood samples for further analysis to determine her internal condition.”
According to the Aquarium, cold-stunned turtles can experience a variety of complications that are difficult to diagnose — and the effects can remain hidden for a long time.
"The passing of the sea turtles had to be confirmed by rigor mortis, as a lack of response and heartbeat through a fetal doppler can confirm ‘no sign of life,’ but not death,” said Mochon-Collura.
Nursing stranded sea turtles back to health can often end in failure, the Aquarium said. However, they do intend to keep trying. Sea turtles don't typically appear on the beaches of the Pacific Northwest unless they are stranded — usually because they are extremely ill due to low water temperatures and unpredictable storms.
The Aquarium said that they have saved two olive ridley turtles — Lightning and Solstice — which were released in Fall of 2017 and have since been tracked to breeding grounds in Mexico.