Friday, September 16, 2011

Gumby showing great improvement!

The 1-3 year old loggerhead that stranded on Kiawah in June has broken the heart of many visitors as she floated listlessly, unable to swim or dive. In addition to having anemia, radiographs revealed a severe case of metabolic bone disease. Little Gumby has been on a rigorous health plan that includes a proper diet, daily calcium injections, and an hour long daily dose of sunlight. The photo below shows an extremely lethargic Gumby as s/he receives an injection just after being admitted.

Sunlight is a significant source of vitamin D because the UV rays trigger vitamin D synthesis in the skin. Calcium can only work with the presence of vitamin D, so both are extremely important to bone health and development for all living creatures.

When we take sea turtles out for sun, it is important to maintain a constant water temperature. Hospital staff and interns in the photo below eat lunch outside on a 95 degree day while they consistently monitor Gumby's water temperature, adding chips of ice to cool down when necessary.

After three months of treatment, Gumby is behaving much more like a normal juvenile loggerhead - swimming around the tank, diving for food, sleeping on the bottom, and even biting at staff when we pull him for treatments and sun.

Follow-up radiographs reveal an increasing bone density. Take a close look at the comparison photo below, the flipper bones in particular.

Although Gumby has a long way to go before he will be able to be released into the wild, s/he is making great progress!

Kelly Thorvalson