An injured 275-pound loggerhead sea turtle was rescued in Lewes, Del., Saturday in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
The animal was one of six loggerheads discovered on the shore of Delaware’s coast over the weekend due to northeast winds and wave action.
During heavy storms, wave energy and wind direction pushes anything immobile to shore, including already deceased sea animals, said Suzanne Thurman, executive director of the Merr Institute in Lewes, a marine education, research and rehabilitation center.
The record number of sea animals washed ashore in Delaware during a storm is 10; that occurred about 20 years ago.
Healthy live animals typically weather storms easily, on the other hand.
One of the loggerhead sea turtles washed ashore this weekend was mobile and alert. But the animal had a boat propeller wound toward the top of its shell that likely had become infected, and the turtle was thin and dehydrated.
The Merr Institute rescued the animal with the help of the Lewes Police Department after beachgoers spotted it drifting to shore.
Thurman said that it’s likely the turtle suffered the injury before the storm — and that, if not for Dorian, it might not have had an opportunity to be rescued.
“Unless someone sighted her from a boat, her chances of recovering from this injury were much slimmer without intervention,” Thurman said. “The fact the storm pushed her in so we could rescue her bodes much better for her recovery.”
The turtle was receiving rehabilitation at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. However, it remained in critical condition Monday.
“Our team appreciates your support and well wishes as they work to treat this animal,” an aquarium representative said in an email.
The National Aquarium, which has an “elements” theme in this year’s naming convention, named the turtle Ruthenium, or Ruth for short.
Thurman had advice for beachgoers: “Being aware of trash, especially plastic bags and trash these animals mistake for food and ingest it and it leads to their death. For boaters, it is hard to see them, but try to keep an eye out for animals in the water, slowing down, keeping speeds at a minimum, that certainly helps.”
To report a marine mammal or sea turtle on Delaware beaches, call Merr at its 24-hour hotline: 302-228-5029. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s hotline is 866-755-6622; the National Aquarium’s is 410-576-3880.