'Semicomatose' sea turtle wakes up in Oregon

NEWPORT, Ore. - An endangered Green sea turtle found in the surf at an Oregon beach June 18 has made good progress in the care of the Oregon Coast Aquarium.

Whether the animal will be ready to return to his native habitat or will require a longer rehabilitation in a warm-water facility remains to be seen, however, said Stuart Clausen, a senior aquarist at the aquarium.

"When he came in, he was what we call cold-shocked or hypothermic," Clausen said. "These animals often will get trapped in a warm water cell that moves up coast and slowly cools down over time.

"By the time it cools down to a point where he'd want to get out of it, he's actually too lethargic to do so on his own, so they often get washed in to shore."

The turtle was "semicomatose" when he arrived at the aquarium, with an internal body temperature of 58. The turtle's natural temperature in more tropical waters is in the mid-70s, Clausen said.

Aquarium staff have slowly warmed up the turtle and hope to eventually return him to the wild.

"His recovery prognosis I would say right now is pretty good," Clausen said. "Part of the mission statement of the aquarium is to inspire conservation efforts. It's a part that we really take a lot of pride in.

"These are an endangered species," he added. "Any time we can keep especially a male who is in good shape and good size in the population, in the gene pool, it's going to help maintain that population of wild animals for future generations."