Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle rescued at Cape Henlopen

LEWES – Responders from the Marine Education, Research & Rehabilitation Institute (MERR) rescued an adult female Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle Wednesday morning.

The sea turtle was one of many strandings on Wednesday due to the effects of the tropical storm. The turtle had been flailing in the rough surf near the Navy Jetty in Cape Henlopen State Park. Before it could crash into the rocks, a surfer helped to guide it into shore.

MERR responders found her in a weakened condition and brought her back to their rescue facility where she was examined and stabilized.

“The turtle appeared to be of good body weight but had a lot of algae growing on her shell,” said Suzanne Thurman, MERR executive director. “She had a previous flipper wound that had healed but had no other external indicators of disease or injury.

“She was somewhat active, but her body movement was weak and indicated an underlying condition that will require more in-depth diagnostics to determine the cause.”

The turtle was transported to the Marine Animal Rescue Program at the National Aquarium in Baltimore for further assessment and rehabilitation.

A member of MERR’s rescue team named her Silver after the pirate Long John Silver, who was also missing a leg. She will be renamed by the aquarium staff based on their theme.

Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles are the most endangered sea turtle, and the smallest of the sea turtles occurring in Delaware. Even at adult size, Silver’s shell only measured around 2 feet in length, which is half the size of the much larger loggerheads. It is rare to get an adult Kemp’s Ridley in coastal Delaware. The majority of this species that is present in Delaware waters are juveniles.

This was the second Kemp’s Ridley turtle in as many weeks for MERR responders. The turtle rescued last week is continuing its rehabilitation at the National Aquarium.

When encountering a marine mammal or sea turtle in Delaware, report it as soon as possible to MERR at its 24-hour hotline: (302) 228-5029.

MERR is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to the conservation of marine mammals and sea turtles and their habitat. MERR is on call 24/7 to provide response for marine animals that have stranded due to illness, injury or death, wherever they might occur throughout the state of Delaware.