Tuesday, June 29, 2010

18th Green and May showing signs of improvement; Palmer still not out of the woods

Three sea turtles admitted into the South Carolina Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital over the last 8 weeks have been undergoing intense medical treatment to stay alive. Although we are seeing improvements in all three, the prognosis of one patient is still very much guarded. Here is the latest on these sea turtle patients:

18th Green
This juvenile green sea turtle has been suffering from a debilitating intestinal impaction. Treatment included subcutaneous fluids 2X/day to combat dehydration, vitamin and antibiotic injections, tube feeding of mineral oil concoctions, enemas, and almost daily radiographs to be sure the impaction was moving through the intestinal tract. Just last week, the animal finally defecated a few times and it was almost no surprise that several pieces of plastics were in the fecal matter. These vegetarian green sea turtles often eat plastics that collect in seagrass beds in which they feed. This should be an important reminder to keep trash out of our natural environment! Below are photos of an x-ray (one of 40!) and 18th Green floating from gas build-up in the intestines as well as video taken today of her finally swimming around her tank. She still a little bouyant but much less than before.

This little Kemp's ridley is one lucky turtle! Not many small turtles survive boat strikes but after 2 months of rigorous treatment, this little turtle is finally eating on his own and is no longer positively buoyant. We are regularly treating the open wounds and giving antibiotics to keep infection away. It may take this little turtle a while to get over this one! The photos below are of May just after surgery to wire portions of the shell together and the most recent underwater shot of May resting on the bottom of the hospital tank, refreshing to see after several weeks of floating at the surface.

Palmer is the newest stranding in the Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital arriving on June 16th. The 90-pound loggerhead is severely debilitated and after 3 weeks of treatment, the prognosis is still guarded. With a white blood cell count of 28, this animal is on a double regimen of antibiotics as well as vitamins and minerals to combat severely low blood chemistries and counts. Palmer has just started eating and was transferred out of the triage tank and into a filtered tank - certainly a move in the right direction. Below is a photo of Palmer in the new tank. S/he is positively buoyant and we are hoping this issue will resolve as the turtle's health improves. This isn't a pretty photo but it is what we are dealing with right now. The second photo is Palmer getting subcutaneous fluids from Kristen and Mary.

Keep track of the progress on all 8 patients at the Sea Turtle Hospital's webpage or come visit the patients in person at the Aquarium! Details of tour times and days are listed on the website. Thanks to all for your support of this program. The old proverb about raising a child is also true about saving sea turtles… “It takes a village.”