Sea turtle Coral lands in sunny San Diego

As you may remember, last fall the Seattle Aquarium began rehabilitating an olive ridley sea turtle that had stranded along the Oregon coast (read our original blog post for all the details). We’re happy to report that, after months of expert care at the Aquarium, Coral recovered to the point that she was healthy enough for the next phase of her rehabilitation, at SeaWorld San Diego.

Coral sea turtle

In late January, she was safely transported—by the U.S. Coast Guard on board a C-27 cargo jet, no less!—to southern California. Accompanying her on the flight were Lab Specialist Amy Olsen of the Seattle Aquarium and Dr. Clarke from SeaWorld. After arriving, Coral quickly settled into one of the SeaWorld’s large, outdoor turtle pools, and began receiving care in the capable hands of SeaWorld’s staff.

Olive ridleys are considered to be the most abundant sea turtle species on Earth—but their numbers are declining, due largely to human impacts, and they are now protected under the Endangered Species Act. Their average life span in the wild is 50 years, and Senior Veterinarian Caitlin Hadfield estimates that Coral was between 18 and 25 years old, and very nearly fully grown. Which means that, assuming she recovers to the extent that she’s able to be released back into the wild, Coral should have many years to live her life in the open ocean. We at the Seattle Aquarium wish her all the best!

Olive ridley sea turtle fast facts:

What’s in a name?

The “olive” in this turtle’s name provides a clue—it refers to the species’ greenish skin and shell.

Home and (not) dry

Olive ridley sea turtles generally spend their lives in warmer waters (including the southern Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans), but they are also found further north. Solitary animals, they prefer the open ocean and may migrate thousands of miles across the sea every year.

Land ho!

Healthy olive ridleys don’t often come to shore—except during nesting season, when females gather on beaches to lay their eggs.

Small wonders

Along with their close relatives, Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, olive ridleys are the smallest sea turtle species: fully grown, they reach about two feet in length and weigh up to 100 pounds.

Dinner is served!

Olive ridley sea turtles eat mostly carnivorous diets composed of crabs, shrimp, jellyfish and snails.

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