"Spunky is quite small, but this turtle sure does pack a punch,” said Francesca Battaglia with the Mystic Aquarium
An endangered sea turtle that survived challenging odds is looking for some help getting home.
The Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Conn., announced on World Turtle Day, May 23, that it is seeking to relocate an endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtle named Spunky, who was rescued alongside 12 other turtles from the Cape Cod region by the New England Aquarium.
Spunky and the other turtles had been found cold-stunned, a hypothermic condition in which a sea turtle's health declines after exposure to cold temperatures. According to the aquarium, the condition frequently leads to severe health complications and even death if left untreated.
When pulled from the ocean, Spunky exhibited cold-stunning symptoms such as pneumonia, sunken eyes, shell bruising, skin lesions, and infections. The sea turtle was brought to Mystic Aquarium on Nov. 22 to recover after his rescue.
Despite regular physical exams, radiographs, blood work, wound care, and daily monitoring from a team of professionals, Spunky took longer to bounce back than the 11 other rescue turtles due to a lingering case of pneumonia and buoyancy issues. Now, he is ready to return to the sea.
Francesca Battaglia, an animal rescue technician and research assistant at the Connecticut aquarium, said that the sea turtle had quite a "will to survive," which touched everyone who cared for him at the Mystic Aquarium.
"Spunky is quite small, but this turtle sure does pack a punch," she said. "We love seeing it. For us, it means it'll thrive when released back to its ocean home."
The Mystic Aquarium said Spunky's lucky number is six, as it took him six months to recover from being cold-stunned, and the aquarium is looking to raise $6,000 in donations to help release Spunky in warm water around the southeastern United States and rehabilitate other turtles in need.
The aquarium said more information on how to donate can be found on their website.
Kemp's ridley turtles are critically endangered, due to threats like bycatch in fishing gear, climate change, the direct harvest of turtles and eggs, loss of nesting habitat, ocean pollution, marine debris, predation of eggs and hatchlings, and vessel strikes, according to the Mystic Aquarium.
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"The conservation impacts of rehabilitating turtles extend far and wide because that single animal can lay thousands of eggs throughout its lifetime. This is the number one endangered species of turtle in the world, so that is a lot of potential in one little turtle," said Sarah Callan, an animal rescue manager at the Mystic Aquarium
The species is the smallest sea turtle in the world and can be found throughout the Gulf of Mexico and the U.S. Atlantic seaboard, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. A record low of 702 Kemp's ridley turtle nests was recorded in 1985, which prompted conservation efforts in the 1990s, causing the population of sea turtles to rebound.
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