Coast Guard flies endangered turtle to San Diego - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Coast Guard flies endangered turtle to San Diego

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - An endangered olive ridley sea turtle Wednesday was being cared for by SeaWorld San Diego's rescue team after being flown in from Oregon by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The turtle, a female nicknamed Solstice, was taken to the Oregon Coast Aquarium for immediate care after it was found injured and suffering from hypothermia in Washington state in December, according to the Coast Guard.

On Tuesday, she was loaded aboard a Sacramento-based Coast Guard HC-130 transport plane and flown to San Diego to complete her rehabilitation in the hopes of returning her to the wild once completely healed, the USCG said in a statement.

"The Coast Guard enjoys a great reputation for safeguarding living marine resources and marine environmental protection," said Cmdr. Kevin Smith, operations officer at Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento. "Allowing our aircrews to transport a distressed sea turtle while accomplishing (routine) training makes this mission particularly satisfying."

Olive ridley sea turtles are also known as Pacific ridley sea turtles. An average adult weighs around 100 pounds and measures around 2 feet in length.

They are primarily found in the Pacific and Indian oceans, where the water is relatively warm.

According to published reports, Solstice was comatose, dehydrated and near death when she was found on the Long Beach Peninsula in southwest Washington. At least five other turtles have been found dead along the coast of Washington and Oregon in recent months due to unusually cold currents, Oregon Coast Aquarium specialists have said.

General threats to the olive ridley sea turtle species include accidental injury due to fishing operations and the taking of their eggs by other animals, which find the yet-to-be-hatched baby turtles in nests along the shore.

The exact number of olive ridley sea turtles left in the wild Wednesday is unclear. However, experts estimate the population has been reduced by 50 percent since the 1960s.


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