A green sea turtle is being slowly warmed and treated for wounds at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre. For the second time in days, Vancouver Aquarium staff are trying to save a marine animal usually found only in southern waters. A green sea turtle was found on a remote beach Saturday in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and removed by Parks Canada officers. The turtle showed minimal signs of movement, and it was transported to Nanaimo, where a team from the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre brought it back to the aquarium’s Marine Science Centre for treatment.
The green turtle is a tropical species usually found in warmer waters around Mexico and Hawaii. Aquarium officials said the turtles sometimes follow warmer currents north, though, and can wind up in B.C. or even Alaska.
“It’s something we see more often during years with above-average sea temperatures, such as during an El Niño period,” Dr. Martin Haulena, head veterinarian at Marine Science Centre, said in a press release.
Haulena said the turtle probably struggled once it hit the colder water. “When they get into water that’s too cold they get hypothermia, also known as cold-stunning. Everything slows down: heart, respiration rates, they can’t swim, they can’t forage — they get weaker and weaker,” he said.
The turtle is being slowly warmed up and treated for wounds.
Aquarium officials say the turtle rescue follows a similar incident from last Thursday, when a Guadalupe fur seal was rescued from the same beach. The seal, a young male, is another warm-water species that was stranded far outside its normal range. The outlook for recovery is not good, unfortunately.
“There has not been much improvement in his condition,” said Haulena. “He’s lethargic, emaciated; he’s still not interested in food. Historically, this species has a poor prognosis once stranded.