Conservation news

Sea turtle first animal returned to New Orleans Aquarium after hurricane




Sea turtle first animal returned to New Orleans Aquarium after hurricane

Sea turtle first animal returned to New Orleans Aquarium after hurricane
mongabay.com
October 13, 2005



“King Midas,” a 136 kg (300lb) green sea turtle, sits in a plastic bin with a wet towel over his shell as he is returned to his tank at the Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans, Louisiana October 13, 2005. “King Midas” was evacuated from the aquarium following Hurricane Katrina and is the first animal to return to the Aquarium following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. PHOTO CREDIT: REUTERS/LUCAS JACKSON.

“King Midas,” a 300-pound (136 kg) green sea turtle, was the first animal returned to the Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans after the facility was evacuated in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Although the aquarium escaped the hurricane physically undamaged and had plenty of food and freshwater, virtually all of its 10,000 fish died when the facility’s emergency generator failed and made conditions unlivable for most its animals. Thousands of fish died due to lack of oxygen and irregular temperatures (the higher the temperature, the less oxygen that is dissolved in water and more aeration is required). The staff did its best to save as many animals as possible but the conditions of New Orleans made the final result inevitable.

Following the storm, surviving animals were transported to the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans and facilities in Monterey, California, and Dallas, Texas.



The aquarium’s colony of 19 penguins and a couple of California sea otters went to Monterey Bay Aquarium, while the rare leafy and weedy seadragons from Australia were taken to Dallas World Aquarium. The aquarium’s large white alligator, macaws, raptors, electric eel, and eight large tarpons — the only fish survivors — were transferred to the Audubon Zoo, which survived the storm with little loss of animal life.



“King Midas,” a 136 kg (300lb) green sea turtle, swims in his tank shortly after being returned to his usual tank at the Louisiana October 13, 2005. “King Midas” was evacuated from the aquarium following Hurricane Katrina and is the first animal to return to the Aquarium following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. PHOTO CREDIT: REUTERS/LUCAS JACKSON.

Five of the aquarium’s rehab sea turtles were released into the Gulf of Mexico earlier in the week with the assistance of the Louisiana National Guard.

Located along the banks of the Mississippi River near the historic French Quarter, the Aquarium of the Americas was considered one of the foremost aquariums in the world. It had 10,000 fish representing more than 530 species and featured four enormous exhibits — Mississippi River gallery featuring catfish, paddlefish and alligators; the Caribbean Reef exhibit featuring a clear, 30-foot-long tunnel surrounded by aquatic creatures; the Amazon Rainforest display featuring piranhas and tropical birds; and the Gulf of Mexico exhibit featuring sharks, sea turtles and stingrays — in addition to a number of smaller displays.

John Hewitt, the senior vice president and director of husbandry at the aquarium, told the Associated Press that, a few days after Katrina, the aquarium’s “generators were working intermittently, it was about 140 degrees in the Amazon exhibit and the otters were swimming in dirty 90-degree water.”

Related articles:

Final 4 missing Gulfport dolphins rescued following hurricane.
The NOAA Fisheries Service and the Marine Life Aquarium of Gulfport, Mississippi, working with a number of other partners, rescued the last four of the eight trained bottlenose dolphins that were swept out of an aquarium tank torn apart by the storm surge of Hurricane Katrina on August 29. Normally held in captivity, the dolphins lack the necessary skills to survive on their own, though they have survived various injuries and predators and have stayed together since the storm.

Penguins and sea otters rescued from hurricane settling in at Monterey Bay Aquarium
New Orleans Aquarium animals shipped to Monterey Bay Aquarium
Two sea otters and 19 penguins from the New Orleans Aquarium have been sent to Monterey Bay Aquarium. The aquarium will start providing updates on the animals once they have been stabilized. There are currently no plans to place them on exhibit at Monterey Bay.