Aquarium of the Pacific releases rescued sea turtle back into the wild

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

Lissette Mendoza
The Aquarium of the Pacific released a rehabilitated 50-pound green sea turtle Aug. 15 after it was rescued from a power plant area.

Members of the Aquarium of the Pacific’s veterinary and animal husbandry staff and community residents gathered near the mouth of the San Gabriel River in Seal Beach Thursday morning for the release of a rehabilitated 50-pound green sea turtle.

Upon arrival, the turtle was carried by five aquarium staff members to the shore, where it was placed on the sand. With some assistance, the turtle made its way into the water before disappearing into the waves as the onlooking crowd cheered.

The turtle was rescued by The Marine Mammal Center San Luis Obispo staff at Avila Beach where it was trapped in a power-plant intake area, according to Dr. Lance Adams, a staff member of the aquarium’s veterinary services.

“It wasn’t getting injured, it just couldn’t get out and staff at the power plant wanted to make sure it was okay, so they had the rescue crew come and get it out of there and bring it down to us to get evaluated,” Adams said.

After arriving to the aquarium the night of July 26, the turtle was put into rehabilitation, which didn’t prove to be complicated since the turtle was considered healthy.

“We weigh them, get their body measurements, take x-rays and do blood work to make sure those values are all normal,” Adams said. “It was really easy for this sea turtle, it was pretty healthy, it was just a little run-down. It didn’t have any major injuries and it wasn’t sick. ”

Afterwards, the turtle was kept in a tank, and fed an appropriate diet, all the while staff made sure its eating habits were normal.

Although not named, the turtle was identified as CM1902; “CM” referring to the green sea turtle’s scientific name of chelonia mydas, “19” for the year it was found, 2019; and “2” referring to it being the second green sea turtle being released this year.

The veterinary team estimates that the turtle is around 6 to 10 years old, considered a sub-adult, based off its body measurements.

“There is not a way to determine it with a turtle alive, in turtles when they’re deceased, researchers can study their bones and determine how old the animal is,” Adams said when asked why an exact age could not be determined.

The turtle’s gender was also not able to be determined because of its sub-adult age. While females have a short tail compared to males, this particular turtle could either be a female or a prepubescent male whose tail has not fully grown.

Green sea turtles can live up to 80 years old, reach 350 pounds and are considered a threatened species according to Cassandra Davis, manager of volunteer programs at the aquarium.

The volunteers conduct a monthly count of green sea turtles spotted in the San Gabriel Watershed river through a citizen science program.

“They are huge migrators, my guess is that it will stay in this area for a couple of days, get comfortable and then determine where it wants to go,” Adams said when asked where the turtle could possibly venture to. “It can either swim back up north along the coast or it can head down south to the Pacific beaches in Mexico and Baja California.”

To apply to be a citizen volunteer and help monitor the endangered green sea turtle species, click here.