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Kemp’s ridley sea turtle “Fog,” rescued from Cape Cod in December 2020, had a severe pneumonia diagnosis
BOSTON, MASS. (Sept. 23, 2022) – After nearly two years undergoing rehabilitative care, a sea turtle rescued from Cape Cod in 2020 has returned to the ocean waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Staff from Mississippi Aquarium released “Fog,” a critically endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, off of Biloxi on Friday. The turtle had a long journey to full recovery from cold-stunning that began on Cape Cod, continued at the New England Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital, and ended at Mississippi Aquarium.
Volunteers and staff from Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary found Fog on the shores of Cape Cod in December 2020. The turtle was admitted to the New England Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital with pneumonia due to a bacterium called Mycobacterium chelonae, a difficult-to-treat pathogen that is common in aquatic animals, which veterinarians were able to diagnose with a lung biopsy. In October 2021, as New England Aquarium staff prepared for the busy sea turtle stranding season in Massachusetts, colleagues at the Mississippi Aquarium agreed to take in Fog and continue its treatment, and volunteer pilots with the non-profit organization Turtles Fly Too stepped in to transport the turtle to Gulfport, MS.
For the past year in Mississippi, Fog has received expert care, including undergoing another lung biopsy, a procedure that Dr. Charles Innis, Director of Animal Health at the New England Aquarium, flew to Mississippi to lead. Fog recovered well from the lung biopsy under the continued care of Aquarium staff.
“Fog had severe pneumonia when he arrived at our hospital in December 2020. We performed several procedures to determine that his condition was caused by an especially difficult-to-treat bacteria, which allowed us to adjust his treatment and put him on the path to recovery,” said Dr. Innis. “After Fog’s transfer to the Mississippi Aquarium, we collaborated closely to prove that the stubborn infection had finally been cleared, nearly two years later. This is a fantastic success story.”
“We are grateful for our partnership with the New England Aquarium,” said Mississippi Aquarium President and CEO Kurt Allen. “Endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle conservation is an important part of our mission at Mississippi Aquarium. We look forward to assisting New England Aquarium with more sea turtle rehabilitation.”
The 2020-2021 cold-stun season on Cape Cod was a record-breaker, with the New England Aquarium admitting 569 live sea turtles and National Marine Life Center triaging 206 for a total of 775. The Aquarium worked closely with colleagues at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Fisheries Service and Turtles Fly Too to identify rehabilitation centers across the country that could receive the stabilized turtles from Massachusetts to make room for more rescues. A total of 29 facilities stepped up to take in rescued turtles over the course of the season.
Pam Bechtold Snyder – email@example.com, 617-686-5068