The Oregon Coast Aquarium plays an active role in conservation and wildlife rehabilitation efforts. The Aquarium is one of three wildlife rehabilitation facilities in the Pacific Northwest, and the only one in Oregon, authorized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to provide specialized care to endangered marine life.
The Oregon Coast Aquarium is the only rehabilitation facility in Oregon authorized to rehabilitate endangered marine animals like sea turtles. Pacific green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) and olive ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) are two species that most commonly strand in the Pacific Northwest, and both are protected by the endangered species act. Partnership with other organizations and civilian awareness of sea turtle endangerment are essential to the successful rescue, rehabilitation and release of these endangered species.
The Aquarium’s past successful rehabilitation and releases of stranded endangered sea turtles serve as evidence for the positive impacts of sea turtle rescue. The return of reproductively viable sea turtles back into wild endangered breeding populations can be critical for species recovery.
These are just three examples of injured wildlife that arrived at the Oregon Coast Aquarium for care this past year. The Oregon Coast Aquarium’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Program rescues and rehabilitates threatened and endangered animals as well as indigenous wildlife deemed injured by human interference. Our goal is to mitigate human impact on wildlife in order to contribute to species conservation and prevent animal suffering.
One of the wildlife cases that the Aquarium sees the most often is entanglement by fishing line. In a recent case, the Aquarium admitted a juvenile brown pelican that was found entangled and snared by a fishing hook. Luckily, the pelican made a full recovery and staff successfully released the bird at Fort Stevens State Park.
The Oregon Coast Aquarium’s daily pelican presentation highlights the importance of properly disposing of fishing line and hooks for cases just like these. Education is our most important tool for preventing fatal human-wildlife interactions and preserving the beautiful Oregon coast.
The Oregon Coast Aquarium relies on visitor-related revenues, grants and donations to finance its annual operations, including its wildlife rehabilitation activities.
Currently, the Aquarium utilizes aging warehouse facilities to diagnose and treat marine life and contracts with veterinarians. Facility limitations make it difficult to quarantine injured or ill animals to safeguard the Aquarium’s current marine population against disease and minimize the impact of human contact. Moving a wild animal imposes further stress, and anesthetizing them puts it at undue health risk.
To accommodate increased marine life rescue, improve conditions for rehabilitation, and create an opportunity for learning, the Aquarium plans to build a state-of-the-art Marine Rehabilitation Center for animal husbandry and veterinary staff to provide critical care to injured or stranded marine animals as well as our own collection. The facility will include indoor and outdoor enclosures, clinical facilities for veterinary diagnostics, observation and treatment. It will also serve as a teaching facility, enabling age-appropriate visitors a clinical view of this vital work in species survival.