San Diego

Sea Turtles Found Comatose Off Oregon Coast Now Rehabilitating at SeaWorld San Diego

The turtles, named Thunder and Lightning, are facing upward of a year in rehabilitation

A pair of olive ridley turtles found comatose and injured on a beach in Oregon were doing well a week after being transferred to a rescue at SeaWorld San Diego, park officials said Friday.

The turtles, named Thunder and Lightning, are facing upward of a year in rehabilitation after they were discovered cold-stunned in December following a pair of big winter storms.

"We have to slowly bring up all their working parts and functions, and that could take months and months," said Mike Price, assistant curator of fishes at SeaWorld.

Thunder and Lighting are members of an endangered species usually found in warmer, tropical waters.

"These are animals that have been cold-stunned," Price said. "They were following a warm current, and that warm current shut down. Next thing you know they're in water that's 10 to 12 degrees colder than they could survive in."

The turtles have to be returned to the ocean and into the warm currents that they like, which are most effective in September or October for the San Diego coast, Price said.

The turtles were first given care at the Oregon Coast Aquarium and then were flown to San Diego by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Park officials said Thunder is 2 feet long and weighs about 80 pounds. Her primary medical issue was severe hypothermia.

Lightning, also 2 feet long and weighing about 50 pounds, also suffered from hypothermia, as well as other problems including a buoyancy issue and injuries to both eyes.

The goal is to get them healthy enough to return to the ocean.

Olive ridley turtles generally venture no further north than Southern California on the Pacific coast but do sometimes wander into the relatively cold waters of Oregon and Washington state, according to SeaWorld.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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