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Monday, November 23, 2020

Mystic resumes rescue program

Animal Rescue Program Reopens with Renewed Focus 

Hope this means a return of seal releases at Charlestown beaches
 (photo by Will Collette)

Mystic Aquarium officially resumed operation of its Animal Rescue Program this morning by safely welcoming back several program volunteers. 

With authority granted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Mystic Aquarium will resume its rescue and rehabilitation of sick, injured and stranded marine animals along 1,000 miles of coastline throughout Connecticut, Rhode Island and Fishers Island, New York.  

Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Program was shuttered in March 2020 as a result of the numerous public health restrictions imposed during Connecticut’s COVID-19 shutdown.  Financial hardship and other operational challenges also impacted the organization during shutdown and necessitated the program’s extended closure.   

Plans are in place to reopen the program with updated, COVID-specific safety protocols.    

“The temporary closure of the Animal Rescue Program was a discouraging consequence of this ongoing global pandemic,” said Dr. Allison Tuttle, Senior Vice President of Zoological Operations. “We are incredibly grateful to once again have the opportunity to provide critically important services to animals in need and to our community at large as part of our stated mission of ocean conservation.”   

The resumption of animal rescue operations will also see Mystic Aquarium expand its conservation impact to include a more robust response to sea turtles in the region. The Aquarium’s state-of-the art Milne Ocean Science and Conservation Center will allow animal care professionals to have a stronger and expanded focus on sea turtle conservation.   

“All species of sea turtles are of conservation concern; making rescue and rehabilitation of even one sea turtle vital to the species’ survival.” added Tuttle. “We will be working diligently to further educate the public and expand our first responder training with a focus on sea turtles as we strive to fill a critical need for endangered sea turtles in our coverage area and beyond.”   

Providing the initial response, First Responders are vital to Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Program by helping Aquarium professionals to determine the status of a stranded animal as well as prepare for action when necessary. 

Through this training, volunteers also learn how to properly identify Connecticut and Rhode Island’s marine mammal and sea turtle species and about federal regulations that ensure the safety of these animals.    

First Responder training for volunteers will take place virtually in the coming weeks and months. Applications for First Responders are being taken at