Threatened loggerhead suffering from propeller scars, other injuries
A 200-plus pound loggerhead sea turtle called “Tammie” is receiving treatment for propeller scars and other injuries at Sea Turtle Recovery’s facility at Essex County Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange, NJ.
After the turtle was stabilized with fluids and transported to their facility with help from the West Orange Fire Department, Sea Turtle Recovery staff removed 38 pounds of barnacles, algae, mussels, mud and other organisms off the 214-pound sea turtle.
“Tammie is the largest Loggerhead our nonprofit has cared for thus far, and thanks to all of the support and groups that came together, she now can focus on getting better,” said Sea Turtle Recovery’s co-executive officer Bill Deerr.
After the majority of debris was removed, staff found five old and partially healed propeller cuts, as well as injuries to the turtle’s front flippers. At this point, there does not appear to be any neurological damage. Blood work and radiographs will provide more information about Tammie, who is stable and recovering.
Tammie's arrival at Sea Turtle Recovery.
“Rehabilitation takes time, care, and support from the public. Sea turtles have real fight, so we are optimistic that Tammie will make a full recovery,” said Brandi Biehl, co-executive officer of Sea Turtle Recovery.
The floating turtle was spotted on Monday, June 12, by the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Lawrence Lawson approximately three miles east of Cape Henlopen, near Lewes, Delaware. After reporting the turtle to experts at the Marine Education, Research, and Rehabilitation Institute (MERR) and NOAA Fisheries, the crew monitored the turtle until they were able to get help from MERR responders to capture the turtle. Once on board, the sea turtle was evaluated and stabilized by staff from Sea Turtle Recovery, who had joined the rescue effort.
“It took a lot of coordination and teamwork between the Lawson crew, MERR and Sea Turtle Recovery to rescue the turtle,” said Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Rizzo, commanding officer of the Lawrence Lawson. “It’s a great feeling for the crew to know that we had a part in saving an animal in jeopardy of becoming endangered.”
According to NOAA Fisheries, sea turtles are frequently found with injuries from boat strikes.
“All sea turtles in U.S. waters are threatened or endangered,” says Kate Sampson, Sea Turtle Stranding and Disentanglement Coordinator for NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Region. “Propeller scars are common injuries we see. If you’re out on the water, we ask that people go slowly, especially in areas where sea turtles may be feeding – such as areas with seagrasses, crabs, and mollusks. If you see jellyfish at the surface, keep a look out for leatherbacks, too.”
Tammie resting after removal of barnacles and other debris
In total, more than six organizations and countless individuals joined together to help this injured reptile.
“With endangered and threatened species going extinct every year, it is inspiring to know that there is a strong passion and commitment within us all to make sure these animals have a future.” said Bill Deerr.
After hearing the story that unfolded, Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. says, “This demonstrates what a dynamic facility Sea Turtle Recovery is. Not only are turtles being cared for and rehabilitated, but it’s an opportunity to raise awareness and educate the public about the dangers these reptiles face.”
Tammie’s recovery will be a long process, but Sea Turtle Recovery hopes for a final release back into the ocean. They plan to continue notifying the public about Tammie’s recovery through their Facebook page and inside their public space at the Turtle Back Zoo.
If you see a sea turtle in trouble, please report it to NOAA’s Marine Animal Reporting Hotline at 866-755-6622 or to your local stranding response organization.
For more information about Tammie and Sea Turtle Recovery, please call 609-667-4076 or go online at www.seaturtlerecovery.org.
About Sea Turtle Recovery
Sea Turtle Recovery, STR, is a 501(c)(3) Non Profit Organization dedicated to the rehabilitation of sea turtles and educating the public on the important ecological role of sea turtles, threats endangering them, and ways to protect their future. The Sea Turtle Recovery is a separate nonprofit located inside Essex County Turtle Back Zoo. STR provides staffing, food, medicine, surgeries and other treatments to sick and injured sea turtles until they can be released back into the ocean. Sea Turtle Recovery also performs outreach throughout the region to raise awareness about sea turtles.
Brandi Biehl (Sea Turtle Recovery)
Jennifer Goebel (NOAA)
(978) 290-0203 (Cell)