An endangered loggerhead sea turtle died at the Oregon Coast Aquarium Monday after it was found stranded on a beach over the weekend, stunned by the cold waters of the northern Pacific.
The turtle was discovered on Crescent Beach in Ecola State Park on Saturday, said Peter Pearsall, a spokesman for the aquarium, and staff were dispatched to recover the animal, which was brought to Newport on Sunday morning.
The Oregon Coast Aquarium is the only facility in the northwest United States authorized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to care for stranded sea turtles, Pearsall said.
Despite their efforts, the animal did not survive.
"The odds of saving stranded animals are low," Jim Burke, the Oregon Coast Aquarium's Director of Animal Husbandry, said in a statement. "The turtles that strand on our shores are in a compromised state--the water temperature off Newport is in the low 50s this time of year, and these cold-blooded animals prefer water that's at least twenty degrees warmer."
Most of the sea turtles that end up on Oregon beaches are olive ridley or green sea turtles, according to Pearsall, and a loggerhead hasn't been brought to the aquarium for care since at least 2007.
All three types of turtle have vast ranges, but breed in warm waters off the coast of Mexico. It is likely that the loggerhead originated from that population.
The aquarium intends to perform a necropsy on the animal to see if internal injuries played any role in its death and Burke said they "hope to learn from this loss."
Officials asked the public, should they happen upon a stranded turtle, to note its location, call the Oregon State Police Tipline at 800-452-7888 and stay to watch the animal, if possible.
-- Kale Williams
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