First sea turtle hatched in Maryland

WASHINGTON – Usually the weather is too cold or storm waters overrun the nests, but Maryland’s first-ever confirmed sea turtle has hatched and is now thriving.

Assateague Island National Seashore off Maryland’s Eastern Shore never has had a viable sea turtle nest until now.

Eggs from a nest rescued from Assateague Island before Hurricane Sandy hit in October were taken to incubate at the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

A baby turtle that had its nose sticking out of an egg when pulled from the sand is now receiving antibiotics. It is boosting its strength and swimming a little longer in the aquarium pool every day.

Another live turtle, fully hatched, was found with the nest, but it subsequently died from a bacterial infection.

This far north on the East Coast, eggs take about 30 percent longer to hatch – making them vulnerable to cold and storms.

Last year, a nest in Delaware hatched that state’s first confirmed sea turtle.

Jennifer Dittmar, a stranded animal coordinator at the National Aquarium, says there was a record number of sea turtle nests reported this year along the East Coast and Gulf Coast of Florida. But fewer eggs were laid by each turtle and average survival rates of hatchlings was lower.

“We’re not sure what environmental effects are going on that might have caused that sort of process, but we’re excited to look forward to more sea turtle nests in the future up in our area,” Dittmar says.

Read more about the aquarium’s rescued and released animals.

WTOP’s Kristi King contributed to this report. Follow WTOP on Twitter.

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