It's Not Easy Being Green, but Being Environmentally Friendly Can Save Marine Life

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The Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team Rescues Kermit the Green Sea Turtle

Virginia Beach, Va., February 19, 2009--- The need to become more environmentally friendly is very popular in today's society for many reasons, but "going green" can also help to save marine life. Kermit, a green sea turtle Chelonia mydas, was found floating upside down in the Sandbridge area of Virginia Beach in late September. The turtle was extremely thin, lethargic, anemic and dehydrated and had pieces of plastic, paper, rubber band and a balloon lodged into his esophagus. Because of the quick response of the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team, Kermit survived and is now being cared for and monitored at the facilities at the Virginia Aquarium.

Today, 200 to 1,100 female sea turtles are estimated to nest on beaches in the Unites States. Consumers need to realize the importance of "green" practices, not only to benefit themselves, but to be more conscious of the environment and wildlife around them. Pollution is one of the main reasons that sea turtles are endangered in the world. It is easy for sea turtles to mistake pollution for food. They can become entangled in debris, or can swallow plastics, papers, or other pollutants which all cause harm to the creature.

Unfortunately, the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team has frequently worked with marine animals affected by the ingestion of trash. In 2000, a snack-sized potato chip bag was found lodged in the gastrointestinal tract of a 15-foot, stranded pygmy sperm whale. The small bag blocked the whale's intestinal tract and caused the animal to starve to death. In 2003, a harbor porpoise died after being found stranded with a stomach full of candy wrappers. Since the program's inception more than 17 years ago, the Stranding Team has responded to more than 1,500 marine mammals and over 2,200 sea turtles, which averages more than 200 responses per year.

Since his rescue from the Sandbridge area of Virginia Beach in late September, Kermit the Sea Turtle has had several procedures to remove the trash from his esophagus. He is back to his healthy weight and will be released locally as soon as the ocean waters warm to 70 degrees.

The Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program's mission is to promote the conservation of marine animal species through stranding response, research, rehabilitation and education. To report a dead or live stranded marine mammal or sea turtle, call the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program 24-hour hotline at (757) 437-6159.

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. It is an authority on the state's aquatic and marine environments featuring more than 700,000 gallons of aquariums and live animal habitats, plus hundreds of hands-on exhibits. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily with extended summer hours to 7 p.m., the Aquarium is located at 717 General Booth Boulevard in Virginia Beach. For more information, call (757) 425-FISH or click on http://www.VirginiaAquarium.com. Images and b-roll for the Virginia Aquarium are available upon request.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Joan Barns Virginia Aquarium | 757.385.0252
Kari Journigan BCF | 757.497.4811

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Joan Barns

Kari Journigan
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