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Turtle Assistance Day 4

Aug 21 2010
by Daniel Gray, DVM

Hi again everybody!

It’s still hot and muggy here in South Louisiana but we continue to press on with our large collection of turtles.  I never introduced the other doctors I am working with.  I get the privilege of working with Dr. Cara Fields, Dr. Pam Govett, and Dr. Craig Pelton.  All of these doctors have significant experience and schooling in zoo and marine mammal medicine and it is a privilege to get to work with them, I’m definitely out of my league but learning a lot!

The good news for everyone is that I finally remembered to bring my camera to work so very soon there will be pictures along with these posts.

We started out the day with morning treatments as usual consisting of antibiotic injections, tending to a couple of wounds on a few turtles, tube feeding our critically sick Kemps turtle, and then drawing blood on 25 turtles.  Today we had another technician join us which meant we were able to work in 3 doctor/vet teams. This allowed us to help these turtles quite efficiently.

During treatments, I was summoned from my duties to help move around a deceased dolphin carcass.  This was a very smelly and gross endeavor but it needed to be done.  This dolphin was found perished when searching for turtles and the doctors performed a necropsy (autopsy on animals) to determine the cause of death.  Right now the cause of death is still waiting analysis form the lab, but I received the privilege of helping  move the stinky remains… no one said being a vet was always glamorous.  As a reward we were allowed to tour the Audubon institute facility which was amazing and inspiring.  The facility is host to a frozen zoo which is a collection of storage tanks of embryos that are used in endangered species preservation and propagation.  They do tons of amazing research concerning some very endangered species and it was a big treat to be allowed on their facility.

After we were finished with our tour we came back to finish treatments and break for lunch.  After lunch we spent time going through more records and reviewing cases.  We made it to the list of turtles that hadn’t been examined in a while so we collected all 51 of those turtles and monitored their weight and growth rates to assure that our “healthy” turtles were actually healthy since some had not been seen medically for more than 3 weeks.  We were very happy to see that all were thriving and growing.   The NOAA and fish and game boats went out today and fortunately found no injured, oiled and sick turtles.  We of course like working with them but are glad they seem to be faring better since the well has been capped.  Tomorrow we look forward to catching up on the 50 radiographs we still need to take.  It will be a busy day.  Talk to you tomorrow!