Get Email Updates

National Aquarium to Release Rehabilitated Sea Turtles on World Sea Turtle Day

Jennifer  Goebel (NOAA)
(978) 281-9175
(978) 290-0203 (Cell)
Liz  Davis (NPS)
(410) 629-6087
June 9, 2016

Release at Assateague Island National Seashore celebrates milestones including 25th anniversary of Aquarium’s Animal Rescue program

(Baltimore) - The National Aquarium is set to release two rehabilitated sea turtles on the morning of Thursday, June 16 at Assateague Island National Seashore. The release coincides with World Sea Turtle Day and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Sea Turtle Week.

The two juvenile green sea turtles came to the National Aquarium’s Animal Care Center in November 2015.

  • “Hardhead” was rescued on the coast of Delaware by the MERR Institute and transferred to Baltimore for long-term rehabilitation. He arrived with a low body temperature, broken ribs and a tear in his lungs, which left him unable to swim. The National Aquarium Animal Science and Welfare staff carefully monitored his recovery and are happy to report he is swimming normally and ready for release.
  • “Beachcomber” suffered a rare blood infection and kidney problems after stranding along the coast of Cape Cod. Thanks to a round of antibiotics and assisted feeding by the National Aquarium Animal Science and Welfare team, he has returned to eating on his own and is healthy enough to return to his natural habitat.

The release will also include 10 rehabbed Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles from the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium and National Marine Life Center animal rescue programs. These endangered sea turtles were some of the more than 200 cold-stunned sea turtles that washed up on Cape Cod beaches this winter.

The release will begin at 9:30am at the south end of the lifeguard beach (North Ocean Beach). Please park at the North Ocean Beach lot, which is to your left after you stop at the Entrance Station.

This is one moment of a landmark year as the National Aquarium marks the 25th anniversary of its animal rescue program. Since 1991, the team has successfully rescued, treated and returned more than 160 animals to their natural habitats, primarily along the Maryland coastline.

“It’s a great responsibility to be involved in the animal rescue process,” said Jennifer Dittmar, manager of the National Aquarium Animal Rescue program. “The triumph of returning a healthy animal to the wild is the reason we have such a devoted Animal Rescue team. The program is successful today with the help of our staff, volunteers and the good Samaritans who call in tips.”

“Our sea turtle stranding and entanglement network partners, like the National Aquarium, improve the survival of not just these individual animals,” says NOAA Fisheries Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Program Coordinator Dave Gouveia. “They are making a big difference in the recovery of these threatened and endangered species as a whole, and to our understanding of the threats these species face.”

The National Park Service, parent to Assateague Island National Seashore, is celebrating a milestone of its own this year—100 years of providing and preserving outdoor recreation environments.

“The centennial of the National Park Service is really an opportunity to kick off a second century of stewardship for America’s national parks and inspire the next generation of visitors to engage in conservation and preservation of these environments,” said Bill Hulslander, Chief of Resource Management at Assateague Island National Seashore.

The public is invited to attend the release. Additional details about the release day will be shared online at as they become available.

On the web

National Aquarium

The National Aquarium is a nonprofit organization focused on changing the way humanity cares for the ocean. What began over 35 years ago as a visitor attraction has evolved into a conservation organization that operates a world-class aquarium. Through unparalleled exhibits, science-based education programs and hands-on field initiatives, we are creating a new community of hopeful conservationists, driven by our mission to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures. For more information on the National Aquarium, visit

NOAA Fisheries

NOAA Fisheries is responsible for the stewardship of the nation's ocean resources and their habitat. We provide vital services for the nation: productive and sustainable fisheries, safe sources of seafood, the recovery and conservation of protected resources, and healthy ecosystems—all backed by sound science and an ecosystem-based approach to management. Join us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and our other social media channels.

National Park Service

More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 411 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Visit us at, on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

For additional information on Assateague Island National Seashore, please visit and participate in the conversation at Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.