Sea turtle strandings have increased in Pacific Northwest

Tucker the turtle gets a checkup at the Seattle Aquarium on Feb. 3, 2016.
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SEATTLE -- When an olive ridley sea turtle first arrived at the Seattle Aquarium in December, he couldn't even move.

"He had some wounds on his neck. He also had some wounds on the back of his body," explained veterinarian Lesanna Lahner.

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The turtle's real problem was that he was chronic cold stunned. His body temperature was 30 degrees lower than normal.

"He was so cold, he couldn't breathe on his own," Lahner said.

Lahner and the staff at Seattle Aquarium saved his life. First, they put him on a breathing machine and gave him medicine for pneumonia.

"We're also helping him get strong again by encouraging him to swim," Lahner said.

They named him Tucker. On Wednesday, he had an ultrasound and radiographs, thanks to equipment typically used on horses by Northwest Equine Veterinary Associates. They showed that Tucker is getting healthier.

"He is doing better than he was when he came in. His heart was barely beating," Lahner said. "We've got a nice solid heartbeat." 

Many marine animals never get this chance and strandings are getting more common.

"Species that shouldn't be where they're washing up," Lahner said. "A lot of changes with animals washing up far from home."

Tucker is one of about six sea turtles to wash up around the Pacific Northwest in the last couple months. It could be a change in currents, El Nino or toxic algae that disorients marine life.

Tucker would normally be found near Mexico or southern California. He will likely be released in a month.

"He's well on his way to healing. We hope to have him back in the wild very soon."