You don’t encounter a sea turtle in St. Michaels harbor every day– especially not this late in the year. So when one turned up on the Miles River on Wednesday, it was cause for concern.
The Miles Wye Riverkeeper first posted photos of the turtle, identified as a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle by the National Aquarium in Baltimore. The turtle was stranded and cold-stunned, an aquarium spokesperson tells Bay Bulletin.
The Riverkeeper says the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) came to safely collect the turtle. DNR’s Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding Response Program enables crews to respond to sea turtles in distress.
The turtle was taken to Baltimore and admitted to the Aquarium’s Animal Care and Rescue Center, where it got a full veterinary exam including preliminary bloodwork. A spokesperson says the animal “appears to be in fair condition aside from extremely low body temperature from cold-stunning.”
The team will work to raise the turtle’s body temperature, then treat it with antibiotics to fight off any infections. The Kemp’s ridley will get round-the-clock care until it’s rehabilitated.
The turtle has been nicknamed “Cheddar” by animal rescue staff. Every year, the Aquarium chooses a theme to name all of the animals it cares for; this year, the theme is cheese.
The Aquarium says Kemp’s ridley sea turtles are commonly found in the Chesapeake Bay during the warmer months, but finding one this late in the year, when temperatures are dropping, is “abnormal.”
If you encounter a stranded sea turtle (or marine mammal) on the Bay or the Atlantic Ocean, reach out to the Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding Response Program. Instructions from DNR are below:
CALL 1-800-628-9944 TO REPORT STRANDED MARINE MAMMALS AND SEA TURTLES (alive or dead). CALL IS FREE FROM ANY MARYLAND PHONE NUMBER AND AVAILABLE 24 HRS-7 DAYS.
–Meg Walburn Viviano