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Georgia Aquarium

Georgia Aquarium Rescues Five Loggerhead Sea Turtles

Threatened species and other wildlife affected by erratic weather

Atlanta (February 13, 2010) –

The Georgia Aquarium’s Dolphin Conservation Field Station (GAI-DCFS) is aiding in the timely rescue efforts of a group of stranded loggerhead sea turtles from the coast of North Carolina. As ocean water temperatures have dropped below 50 degrees during the last several weeks, thousands of sea turtles have become stranded in the Southeast. Turtle rehabilitation and rescue facilities all over Florida and the Carolinas have been housing rescued turtles, but have reached capacity.

The Georgia Aquarium and the Georgia Sea Turtle Center were contacted by overwhelmed facilities to help care for these stranded animals. The GAI-DCFS ambulance drove to the North Carolina/South Carolina border where Aquarium veterinary staff members coordinated the transfer of five turtles from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, who also collaborated with sea turtle rehabilitation facilities in North Carolina and Georgia. The animals, which have a medical status of guarded, were transported to the Aquarium’s quarantine and warehouse facility in Atlanta, where staff will treat and monitor the animals in an effort to save them.

“This is an unprecedented wildlife mortality and is bordering catastrophic. With such extreme changes in our environment, it is becoming more evident of a global climate change and unfortunately wildlife is paying the price.” said Dr. Gregory Bossart, senior vice president and chief veterinary officer of the Georgia Aquarium. “As a steward for conservation and education, our mission is dedicated to making a difference in the aquatic community."

The cold snap that has swept the Southeast has threatened the lives of an estimated 5,000 turtles; 4,500 in Florida alone. The last comparable cold weather sea turtle stranding was in 2001, which affected 400 turtles. Reports of motionless sea turtle sightings have poured in by the hundreds in the last several weeks, prompting the attention of local rescue and rehabilitation centers as well as state departments of natural resources.

See pictures of the turtles' arrival at Georgia Aquarium.

About Loggerhead Sea Turtles
The largest concentration of Loggerhead Sea Turtles resides in the Atlantic Ocean from the coasts of Virginia to Brazil. They can grow to weigh over three hundred pounds and up to three feet in length. Nearly seventy thousand Loggerheads nest in Florida annually. Loggerheads do not reach sexually maturity till 35 years of age, contributing to their ‘threatened’ classification under the Endangered Species Act.

About the Georgia Aquarium
The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia, is the world’s largest with more than eight million gallons of water and more aquatic life than any other aquarium. The mission of the Georgia Aquarium is to be an entertaining, educational and scientific institution featuring exhibits and programs of the highest standards, offering engaging and exciting guest experiences and promoting the conservation of aquatic biodiversity throughout the world. For additional information, visit www.georgiaaquarium.org

About Georgia Aquarium’s Dolphin Conservation Field Station
Founded in April of 2008, Georgia Aquarium's Dolphin Conservation Field Station is a joint venture between the Georgia Aquarium and Marineland's Dolphin Conservation Center. Funded by donations and grants, its vision is to increase public awareness and contribute to scientific study through conservation. Georgia Aquarium's Dolphin Conservation Field Station is dedicated to the research, rescue, rehabilitation and release of dolphins and small whales in northeast Florida. Georgia Aquarium's Dolphin Conservation Field Station also assists other Stranding Network members within the southeast region (SER). For additional information, visit www.dolphinfieldstation.org.