NEWPORT, Ore. -- The Oregon Coast Aquarium said Friday it is caring for an endangered, injured olive ridley sea turtle after it was found on a nearby beach.
The turtle was spotted by a beach-goer in Bob Straub State Park at dawn on Thursday.
The aquarium said in a news release that the turtle’s location alone indicated something was amiss, as the Pacific Northwest has much colder water and is far north of sea turtles’ typical tropical range. The sub-adult turtle was conscious with swelling and blood around its eyes.
Officials said the staff rinsed sand off the turtle, checked its vital signs and lubricated its shell to help it stay hydrated. The 48-pound turtle was hypothermic, with a body temperature of just 57 degrees, which is 18 degrees below normal.
“It is strong, but may have sustained head injuries in the surf, so its prognosis is quite guarded at this point,” said Evonne Mochon-Collura, assistant curator of Fishes & Invertebrates at the aquarium.
The turtle’s eyes were rinsed and treated with an antibiotic ointment. A hydration bath of salt water mixed with fresh water, matching the turtle’s body temperature, also provided a chance to clear sand from its eyes, nose and under its shell, the aquarium said.
Officials said the best-case scenario is that the turtle will need several months of rehabilitation before it is healthy enough to be transferred south for eventual release in its warmer, native waters.
Olive ridley turtles are classified as endangered.