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Beloved Green Sea Turtle Calypso dies unexpectedly at National Aquarium

Posted at 4:18 PM, Feb 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-03 16:21:55-05

BALTIMORE — Calypso, the 500-pound resident green sea turtle at the National Aquarium, has died.

On Monday, prior to the Aquarium opening to the public, Calypso was found unresponsive in the Blacktip Reef exhibit. Staff members responded immediately yet, despite their best efforts, it was confirmed that Calypso had already passed.

At this time, the cause of Calypso’s death is unknown. Preliminary tests completed by the Aquarium’s Animal Health and Welfare team did not reveal any obvious cause of death and Calypso had not exhibited any recent indication of illness or distress.

Calypso was rescued by the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation (Riverhead, NY) in 2000 after stranding in the Long Island Sound with an infected front left flipper, which was later amputated to prevent the spread of infection to healthy tissue. When rescued, she weighed just six pounds and was believed to be approximately 2 to 3 years old.

At the time, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration deemed any sea turtle with an amputation non-releasable.

In 2002, Calypso was welcomed to her permanent home at the National Aquarium where she instantly became an iconic favorite of both guests and staff, presiding first over the Aquarium’s Wings in the Water exhibit before eventually transitioning to Blacktip Reef in 2013.

In the years since her arrival, Calypso had grown to measure approximately 4.5 feet in length and weigh more than 500 pounds.

“To say we are heartbroken today is woefully inadequate,” said National Aquarium Chief Executive Officer John Racanelli. “We are truly devastated at losing Calypso. From the staff that interacted with her every day to our guests and members, all who encountered Calypso will never forget her. Arriving here as a survivor of cold stunning, she was a living testament to our commitment to animal rescue, care and welfare. Over the past 18 years, she inspired millions and embodied our conservation mission. She was an irreplaceable member of our family, and every one of us—along with an entire generation of Aquarium visitors from around the world—will miss her.”