Friday, June 3, 2011

Tanks for the National Marine Life Center's efforts

Readying for sea turtle rescues

Though her species is considered “threatened” in Massachusetts, Teanna is a fortunate little Diamond-backed Terrapin.

Luck was not exactly on her side last January, though.

That’s when the salt marsh turtle somehow managed to fall into a basement window well, and became trapped.

No one’s sure how long she was stuck without food or water, but to say she was a shell of her former self when discovered is an understatement.

She was near death and needed emergency medical treatment. That’s when her luck got better.
She was rushed to the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in North Grafton, where she was stabilized.

But she needed somewhere to convalesce, and that’s where the National Marine Life Center stepped in, said the NMLC’s Director of Science and associate veterinarian, Dr. Sea Rogers Williams.

Today, a hale and hearty Teanna is due to be released back in her native Wellfleet this week, and shares a front room at the NMLC’s offices at 120 Main St. with a trio of ailing Northern red-bellied cooters, though not the same tank.

Williams said the NMLC is happy to help the state’s Division of Fisheries and Wildlife with local turtle travails, but its guiding mission is to rescue and restore stranded sea turtles, seals and larger sea-going aquatic creatures.

The non-profit has recently completed installation of two tanks, fed by the abutting Cape Cod Canal, capable of sustaining Teanna’ larger sea-going cousins, as well as seals. Three more tanks are also being prepared in the NMLC’s hospital facility and work is still underway to install even larger tanks that can be used to aid in the treatment of dolphins and small whales.

As friendly as Cape Cod can be to human tourists, it can be a tough ’hood for visiting aquatic creatures. Each year up to 56 seals, 98 dolphins and 144 sea turtles are stranded on Cape beaches, sick or injured. The NMLC was formed in 1995 to create a treatment facility and began construction of the hospital on Main Street in 2009.

Eventually, the completed hospital will have tanks capable of housing aquatic creatures ranging in size from two-foot-long Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles, considered the smallest of the marine turtle set, to 20-foot-long pilot whales, weighing in at up to three tons, said Kathy Zagzebski, NMLC president and executive director.

She took visitors on a tour of the hospital during the organization’s annual meeting on May 26, starting with the room housing the completed tanks ready for occupancy which will be open for business within the next month or two and ending at the unfinished portion that will be designed for the larger creatures.

“I ask you to close your eyes and use your imagination” to see what will be.

The non-profit NMLC’s fundraising mission is ongoing, for while $3.1 million has gone into the project so far, another $2 million to $3 million will be needed to complete it.

“It’s a tremendous challenge to build,” she said.

Source: Tanks for the National Marine Life Center's efforts - Wareham, MA - Wicked Local Wareham

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