Thursday, September 11, 2008

New patients admitted into Turtle Hospital

I am constantly amazed at the resilience of sea turtles. The last two patients to be admitted into the Turtle Hospital have such extensive injuries that I have to wonder how they survive. The short answer may be that they are reptiles. A mammal would very rarely survive these injuries. But even with resilience on their side, these young sea turtles will require a great deal of time, care and medication if they are going to have a chance of surviving.

Myrtle, a small Kemp’s ridley with a major skull fracture (most likely caused by a boat propeller) arrived from Myrtle Beach on August 26. Within an hour of the turtle’s arrival, Dr. Shane Boylan, South Carolina Aquarium Veterinarian, wired the upper jaw back together with the turtle fully anesthetized. Remarkably, the turtle made it through surgery and is still alive today. Treatment is ongoing for this little guy and we can only hope that a head injury such as this one can heal without complications. Only time will tell.

North Myrtle, a juvenile loggerhead that arrived only a week after Myrtle, is suffering from a crushed carapace and pneumonia. The carapace has 6 major fractures and many bone fragments that will eventually die off. Pneumonia in sea turtles, especially in later stages, is very difficult to treat. Hours are spent each day with this animal doing wound treatment and antibiotic nebulization. We hope that this intense medical care will rein in the end.

Be sure to check the Turtle Hospital webpage for regular updates on these new patients and all of the turtles in rehabilitation. And in case you didn't know it, sick and injured sea turtles love having visitors, so come see them for yourself by taking a hospital tour!

Kelly Thorvalson