[Mystic, CT] - What lengths would you go to save one little turtle? For the team at Mystic Aquarium, the question is, what lengths wouldn't you go to? Mystic Aquarium, a leading conservation organization dedicated to protecting marine wildlife, is thrilled to announce its participation in World Turtle Day 2023 and its mission to release the remarkable Spunky, a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle. World Turtle Day, an annual event celebrated on May 23, is an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of turtle conservation and rally support for the rescue and rehabilitation of these endangered creatures.
Spunky, a small turtle with a tenacious personality, captivated the hearts of the Mystic Aquarium Animal Rescue team when it arrived on November 25, 2022, after being rescued from the Cape Cod region by the New England Aquarium. Spunky was found cold-stunned, a hypothermic condition common among sea turtles exposed to cold temperatures. This condition frequently leads to severe health complications and, often, is fatal for this endangered species. Spunky and 12 other turtles, including a threatened loggerhead sea turtle, exhibited symptoms such as pneumonia, sunken eyes, shell bruising, skin lesions, and other infections.
Since its arrival, Mystic Aquarium has provided exceptional world-class care for Spunky, ensuring its well-being and recovery. When Spunky first arrived, it received daily monitoring from a dedicated team of professionals. The turtle received regular physical exams, radiographs, blood work, and wound care. Additionally, 'turtle lifeguards,' both volunteers and Animal Rescue Program staff, were present to oversee their swimming activities.
Spunky suffered many challenges during its stay, being the last of the turtles to be released due to lingering pneumonia and buoyancy issues. Despite this little turtle's obstacles, Spunky has displayed a real will to survive, endearing itself to everyone involved in its care. Francesca Battaglia, Animal Rescue Technician and Research Assistant, said it best, "Spunky is quite small, but this turtle sure does pack a punch. We love seeing it. For us, it means it'll thrive when released back to its ocean home."
Kemp’s ridley turtles, like Spunky, are critically endangered. Various factors, including bycatch in fishing gear, climate change, direct harvest of turtles and eggs, loss of nesting habitat, ocean pollution, marine debris, predation of eggs and hatchlings, and vessel strikes threaten their survival. It is crucial to raise awareness and contribute directly to the conservation efforts that protect these magnificent creatures and their fragile habitats. "The conservation impacts of rehabilitating turtles extend far and wide because that single animal can lay thousands of eggs throughout its lifetime. This is the number one endangered species of turtle in the world, so that is a lot of potential in one little turtle," says Sarah Callan, Animal Rescue Manager.
After six months of care, Mystic Aquarium needs your help to get Spunky South by raising 'SIX'! Mystic Aquarium aims to raise $6,000 in donations through a collaborative fundraising initiative. The funds raised will be equally divided between the Animal Rescue Center (ARC) and Turtles Fly Too, Inc., both reputable organizations committed to the welfare and conservation of turtles. Turtles Fly Too is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to coordinate and facilitate the inclusion of general aviation in large-scale "first responder" relocation efforts. Securing planes, covering the fuel expenses, and finding pilots to donate their time to pick up and release these endangered turtles are all components of their mission.
With these funds, Mystic Aquarium can not only release Spunky, but continue to provide the necessary resources to rehabilitate and release other turtles like Spunky, ensuring their survival for future generations. Please join us in celebrating World Turtle Day 2023 by supporting our mission to save Spunky the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle. Together, we can significantly impact the preservation of these extraordinary creatures and the biodiversity of our oceans.
Donations can be made by clicking https://bit.ly/42Yltwu or finding Mystic Aquarium on Venmo via @mystic_aquarium. For more information or to get involved, please visit our website at www.mysticaquarium.org. Together, let's create a brighter future for turtles and our planet.