6/14/10

12 new turtles and updates on highlighted cases

Hi Folks!

Let me sum up yesterday's activities for you in a few words: busy, rewarding and yes, our old friend, hot! Dr. Boylan (from the South Carolina Aquarium, check out their sea turtle hospital blog here) and I started our day in Tyvek suits giving the new turtles from the day before their second bath. In addition to a second bath, they each get a full exam (more on physical exams in this previous blog) and any prescribed medications. We then administered daily treatments, admitted a new sea turtle (non-oiled), completed exams and were setting up for a group of 11 incoming turtles when the transport van pulled up. It was a full and rewarding day.

We were short handed in the morning so I was bathing the turtles myself while Dr. Boylan wrote up the exam findings and prepared medications for each animal. We were working side by side so from time to time I'd have him hold a turtle if I had an active animal. The majority of the turtles here are quite small; picture a dessert plate with a head and flippers - that will give you a good idea of their size. I wet a large size sponge and placed each animal (one at a time) on the sponge. They completely relaxed on the sponge and it became very easy for me to thoroughly clean them. I used a toothbrush to be sure I could get in all the folds in their skin. The photo below shows a little sea turtle resting calmly on the sponge during the bath.


During the second bath and exams I discovered a difference in the rear flippers of one of our turtles. The left flipper looked larger to me so I called over Dr. Boylan, who agreed. The left rear "knee" area was swollen in comparison to the right limb. We scheduled this turtle for radiographs asap. In the photo below on the left you can see the enlarged limb, in the photo on the right you can see rear view of both limbs. The left limb is clearly larger then the right. These are important observations as this could indicate infection, fracture or other medical problems.


Below is an update on the cranial fracture case that came in the other night. The photo on the left shows the wound after I flushed it out with sterile saline. The photo on the right shows this same turtle after we applied a silver based ointment.


This is a photo of our little loggerhead, the animal I named Red Louie. Red Louie had radiographs (x-rays) the day before yesterday. Unfortunately the rads show that Red Louie has pretty severe pneumonia. He is in guarded condition and his prognosis is difficult to predict. The veterinarians evaluated his condition and put him on the best possible medical plan. As many of you know from our cold stun blogs, pneumonia in sea turtles is very serious and can take months for therapy.


Nearly two weeks ago Dr. Innis performed surgery on the rear flipper, shown below (click here for original story) of one of the sea turtles. The wound is healing nicely.


After the second round of bathing, a new patient exam, and scheduled treatments, we began to prepare the red zone for 11 incoming turtles. The heat index was again over 100 (I think it was over 110) so I prepared a cooler full of Gatorade and water for the staff and volunteers who would be coming in to help with the incoming animals.

The animals that came in with this group were heavily oiled. Below is one of my cases. After a full physical exam including collecting a respiration and heart rate, examining the animal for wounds or injuries and other exam procedures, we give the animal a brief de-oiling using mayonnaise smeared on gauze. The oil sticks to the mayo covered gauze and is highly effective for removing the base layer of oil prior to the bath. In the photo on the left shows a large ball of oil in the skin folds behind the right rear limb. the photo on the right shows the oil plug on the mayo covered gauze.


Below is another case I worked on last night. I took this photograph to document a shallow indent on the skull of this turtle. The photo didn't come out great but you can see a sheen of oil on the skin of this animal.


Just when I settled on the name Oblio for our lone green sea turtle (
meet Oblio in this recent post), another green turtle came in last night. The new green turtle is considerably larger then Oblio, probably about 4 or 5 times larger. I think it's clear that this one should be named Arrow. For those of you interested in the origin of these names see below.


With admitting 11 animals, comes collecting 11 sets of biological samples. Below is a photo of the sample preparations carefully done by the lab technicians. This photo only shows a fraction of the samples since they didn't all fit in the shot. The photo on the right shows Mel (in foreground) and Sarah as they work in the lab. We call them the super techs - which they truly are!!!



What blog would be complete without a weather update from me. Today at 6:30 a.m. the heat index was already at 94 degrees. The heat advisory continues as does the profuse sweating (too much information?).

That concludes today's sea turtle blog. I'll describe the origin of the name Oblio as best as I can remember it below so those of you who don't want to continue reading may tune out - thanks for your attention thus far.

Since several of you emailed me asking what Oblio meant, I'll give you a quick peek into my dehydrated thought process for this name. Oblio was a character from an animated short movie many years ago. My memory is dehydrated too, but if I remember correctly Oblio was a little boy with a round head in a world of cone heads. He was unique and stood out in the cone-head world. He left or was ousted from the community in search of others like him. He left with his only friend, his dog Arrow. He searched high and low without finding any other round heads. After much growth, his head transformed into a cone head. Once a cone head he returns to his village to find they have all become round heads. He was unique and special to the end. If I have this wrong and any wants to correct me please leave me a message in the comment section.

- Connie

NOTE: In fact, Connie may not have been far off! Click here for some more information about the film.

11 comments:

  1. Go super techs!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for such a detailed daily blog- you're all working so hard!

    ReplyDelete
  3. You are all awesome...taking care of these innocent creatures!! THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Me and my arrow
    Straighter than narrow
    Wherever we go, every one knows
    It's me and my arrow

    Me and my arrow
    Taking the high road
    Wherever we go, everyone knows
    It's me and my arrow

    And in the morning when I wake up
    She may be gone, I don't know
    And we make up just to break up
    I'll carry on, oh yes I will

    {refrain}
    Me and my arrow
    (do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do)
    Straighter than narrow
    Wherever we go, every one knows
    It's me and my arrow

    Me and my arrow (5X)

    {Refrain}
    Lyrics by Harry Nilsson from the movie "The Point" 1971, geeze Connie you're older than I thought you were! ;-) keep up the your wonderful sense of humor through this like you always do!

    Terry

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm reading your blog almost every day. You are doing such an amazing job of giving the turtle side of the disaster... and the human side of the NOLA heat! Learning so much from you and wishing you, the team, and the turtles the best. Many many thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Definitely SUPER!!! Keep up the good work!!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. What an informative blog. Thank you for the updates. Great work and thank you to all.
    Kim J.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Too bad you were short handed on June 14th, I am sure there are so many people who would love to be there helping! Keep up the good work!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I just started following your blog so forgive if this question has already been answered-

    Where will all the rescued turtles go since they can't be put back into the oily ocean?

    Thank you so very much for your dedication and care of these magnificent gentle creatures.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thank you for saving turtles!! I have read that many turtles are dying -burned alive- in controlled burns of the oil. What can we do to stop this horrible thing? I live in Italy and I know about this tragedy only by internet- in my country tv and newspapers don't say a word about this!!!

    ReplyDelete
  11. More great questions here - you guys are great and smart to think things through all the way to release of the animals! Nancy P. Great question - animals will be released in safe locations according to their size and age class. First they must be declared fit for release by an attending and skilled sea turtle veterinarian. After that safe release locations will be selected based on the age class of the animal. For example some animals depending on age class could safely be released into lagoons (pending they are not in the oil path!) along the coast of Florida. At certain age classes it is well documented that the animals will remain in the lagoons feeding. These animals exhibit strong site fidelity that they remain within these lagoons. Other size/age classes will be released in area's according to where that age class would normally be. Since the gulf is covered in oil other locations that offer similar habitat will be sought out and the animals release there. I am not involved in the releases so I am not sure of the release locations. I expect releases will happen on the east coast of Florida or other suitable sites but the experts at NOAA and U.S. Fish and Wildlife will make that determination with the best interest of these animals as the primary concern.

    Letizia - I agree the controlled burns are difficult to read about since there is a good chance there are animals within the burn zone. The only way to know that for sure would be to allow search teams in there first. In the blog I just wrote, I do address the burn issue however I do not have an answer for it. Please read the article by the Los Angeles Times - it emphasizes this very problem. Based on the quote in the article it sounds like communication between the responsible parties for the burning and the rescue teams needs to happen. I'm not sure what if anything the rest of us can do about that but I'm looking into that and will include my finding in my oil spill blog next week.

    Thanks to each of you for your support, your interest in sea turtles and for your great comments and questions. I'll do my best to answer as best I can or to find the information for you.

    Best

    - Connie

    ReplyDelete