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Turtle assistance Day 10

Aug 29 2010
by Daniel Gray, DVM

Today was a great experience for yours truly! Right away in the morning we caught up the dolphin for testing. So for the first time in my life I donned a wetsuit in preparation of spending some time in seawater, another first. Then the 6 of us on the dolphin catch team met and discussed strategy. The plan was to place a large net over ½ of the tank in order to keep the dolphin (Flipper) in one half of the tank. Then we were to encircle Flipper and move slowly inward until we limited his range to smaller and smaller circles. Then on the word go we all grabbed him around the body and immediately lifted his blow hole above water. We then carefully moved the irritated Flipper toward the pre-placed sunken platform. We then maneuvered Flipper into a dolphin sling to facilitate getting him out of the tank. Before lifting him out of the water blood was collected from his fluke (rear flipper). During the whole time Flipper was squeaking and clicking his displeasure but we handled him with firm but caring hands even though he was clearly cussing us out! Of course we were very happy to feel him resist and squeak since when he arrived he was barely alive… the irritation he showed toward us was a welcome sight. After blood was collected we used a special sling to lift him out, weigh him, take blow hole and chuff (blow hole air) samples and stomach samples. After we were finished,  we gently lowered him back into the pool. We then proceeded to swim around in the tank with Flipper to scrub algae off of his tank. I was amazed at how buoyant the seawater (and the extra 30lb of fat I’m carrying) were, swimming in saltwater was quite different than the fresh water I am used to. That ended our experience with flipper but it was one I’ll never forget. Here are a couple of poor quality pictures (but the best I could do) of flipper in his tank.

Here is Flipper close to his tank window

Here is Flipper swimming from the back his tank to the front.

After we cleaned up and finished with Flipper we proceeded to or 2 hours of treatments. As usual this consisted of antibiotic injections, weight collection, appetite monitoring, and blood drawing. In the afternoon Dr. Filed, Dr. Pelton and I necropsied a very very foul and exctremely decomposed female dolphin. Once again we do this to ascertain the cause of death and to see if any oil or oil realated activites were involved in their death. This was another experience I’ll never forget. To give you an idea of how smelly this dolphin was … I got back to my hotel room and then went to work out in the hotel gym. When I returned to my room just the presence of my clothes in the room made it so smelly that I couldn’t stand it and had to do a midnight cloths wash. The smell was INTENSE.
Today we feature the loggerhead turtle

Here is the side view of our biggest Loggerhead turtle

Front of lg logger

Here is the front view of our biggest Loggerhead patient

Loggerhead plastron

Here is the plastron of a Loggerhead turtle

Here is the head on view of a Loggerhead turtle

loggerhead side view

Here is the side view of a Loggerhead turtle

loggerhead front view

Here is the front top view of a Loggerhead turtle

Talk to you tomorrow!