Rescued sea turtles heading for SeaWorld


Two sea turtles rescued from frigid waters off the Oregon coast are scheduled to arrive in San Diego tomorrow aboard a U.S. Coast Guard aircraft before being taken to SeaWorld for rehabilitation.

The turtles will be picked up in Newport, Ore. by a C-130 Hercules out of Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento, and flown to Naval Air Station North Island, arriving about 1:30 p.m., Coast Guard officials said.

The Coast Guard was able to schedule the turtle transport to coincide with a training flight.

“The Coast Guard has 11 missions, one of which encompasses environmental protection,” said Lt. Justin Cassell, a Coast Guard pilot out of Sacramento. “What better way to help the animals of the environment than to ensure they get where they need to be.”

The olive ridley sea turtle, an endangered species, and Pacific green sea turtle were in severe thermal shock when plucked from the ocean in November, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The reptiles were taken to the Oregon Coast Aquarium, where they have been cared for since their rescue.

The sea turtles are being moved to SeaWorld because it is better equipped to attend to their needs as they recuperate and are rehabilitated to be released back into the wild, said Jim Burke, director of animal husbandry at the Oregon Coast Aquarium.

He said both turtles are females, and if they can be released back into the wild, it will benefit both species.

“The aquarium’s role in the sea turtles’ rehabilitation has been triage, urgent care and stabilization,” Burke said. ‘Ideally, once rehabilitation is complete, they will be released into their natural habitat.’’