NewsPinellas County


Clearwater Marine Aquarium cares for sea turtles impacted by red tide

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Posted at 7:59 PM, Sep 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-10 23:29:20-04

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is caring for sea turtles likely impacted by red tide.

Dr. Shelly Marquardt, a veterinarian with the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, said volunteers rescued a Kemp's ridley that was found floating near Pass-a-Grille on Sept. 6.

The turtle named Howie was showing neurological symptoms most likely due to red tide exposure. The staff treated him with fluids and IV nutrition to aid in flushing out the toxins.

"The Kemp’s was exhibiting very consistent signs with red tide, had kind of the biting activity and was very lethargic and had some changes on its blood work that really correlates well with red tide," said Dr. Marquardt.

Staff and volunteers also rescued another turtle named Ginger. The loggerhead was found floating sideways and had issues diving near Three Rooker Island. She had pneumonia and was located on Sept. 4. The aquarium is providing vitamin injections, fluids and antibiotics.

Guests may visit Ginger and Howie in the surgical suite at the aquarium.

"If you want to see them in person, they're hanging out in our surgery suite stop on by and we’d love to talk to you about them," said Dr. Marquardt.

Turtles impacted by red tide may be found floating, may have uncoordinated swimming or have beached themselves. They usually exhibit neurological signs that are most consistent with seizure-like behavior and disorientation.

A red tide report released on Friday, Sept. 10 showed a patchy bloom of the red tide organism, Karenia brevis, persists along Florida's Gulf Coast.

"We're keeping a really close eye on this. We definitely have seen an uptick in the deceased turtles that we're receiving calls about from people finding them on the beaches," said Dr. Marquardt.

To report a stranding or marine animal in distress contact our 24-hr rescue hotline: 727-441-1790 Ext. 1