Washed up with the seaweed, a lethargic olive ridley sea turtle was discovered stranded at the base of Thousand Steps Beach in Santa Barbara.
The endangered olive ridley is a species found throughout the world and the most numerous among those on the list of endangered marine turtles. Shane Anderson, supervisor of marine operations at UCSB, said the female turtle was found Dec. 23 on the Santa Barbara coast. The turtle is believed to have been lured by the warm water currents of El Ni–o from the stretch of ocean between Mexico and Columbia, where large populations of the turtles live.
When discovered, the sea turtle was suffering from malnutrition, dehydration and a dramatic drop in body temperature, Anderson said. After obtaining federal permission from the National Marine Fisheries, Anderson transported the distressed turtle to SeaWorld in San Diego.
Upon arrival, the turtle was checked for injuries, given blood tests and antibiotics, and placed in a 76-degree pool, Anderson said.
“After about 10 minutes, [the turtle] started moving,” he said.
After two months at SeaWorld, the olive ridley is expected to fully recover, Anderson said, but she will not be released until mid-summer when the water is warmer.