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Turtle assistance Day 6 & 7

Aug 26 2010
by Daniel Gray, DVM

Hello again everyone!

We had a pretty quiet weekend which was very nice for us.  We had an 8:15-3p sat and an 8:30-1:30 Sunday.  On Sat we went through our typical treatments including tube feedings, antibiotic injections and oral meds (stuffed in little fish and squid).  We then received good news in that we will be sending out 20-25 Kemp’s turtles to another facility on Tuesday!  We are very excited to send some of these turtles out as that usually means they are very close to being released.  We tediously  combed every chart, one by one, analyzing lab work, weights, shell sizes and other factors making sure we are transferring the healthiest turtles we have.  Fortunately, we discovered there are many healthy candidates which confirm the wonderful job that everyone is doing for these turtles.   Since we had such a quiet and successful day Dr. Pelton decided to throw a BBQ at the very unique 1880’s era house he has the pleasure of staying at.  The party was almost derailed by the announcement that the spotter boats found a stranded dolphin.  It was a tense thirty minutes of preparations but we found out the dolphin was able to swim out to sea under its own power making it likely this was a younger dolphin hunting in the shallows.  We had a wonderful time at the BBQ and were excited to take on the next day.

On Sunday we had a very short treatment day consisting of the usual antibiotics and tube feedings.  We then had the privilege of watching Dr. Brian Stacey (board certified marine pathologist) perform a necropsy (turtle autopsy) on a large loggerhead turtle that was found deceased in the gulf, seen here:

Measurements being taken on a deceased loggerhead turtle prior to necropsy.

This was quite an experience as Dr. Stacey has extensive experience with turtle necropsy and we learned a lot about turtle anatomy and performing necropsies on our own patients.  After this was complete we then took a behind the scenes tour of the Audubon Aquarium.  We enjoyed seeing all the animals on display as well as some of the original oiled turtles that are now happily swimming in the Gulf exhibit awaiting release.  While at the Aquarium we were able to see Dr. Field perform some treatments:

Here is the Moray and his tank mate hiding in their pipe

Here the angry Moray is escaping through a hole in the net

Here Dr. Field is giving an injection to a sick Moray Eel

After seeing the aquarium we went back to the center to give evening oral meds to over 50 turtles.  I finally returned home to settle in for the night when I was called back to help with a deceased dolphin that was dropped off for necropsy tomorrow.  It is unfortunate that this animal died but it will be an interesting experience for us to witness.

For the next few posts I’ll post some pictures of the different species of turtles we are working with… here are pictures of the Kemps Ridley the most numerous species we have:

Talk to you tomorrow!

Plastron of a Kemp's Ridley sea turtle

Side view of Kemp's Ridley turtle

Closer side view of Kemp's Ridley Turtle

Head view of Kemp's Ridley

Top view of Kemp's Ridley turtle