73 turtles and counting ...

Hi all,

Okay folks we are now knocking on the door of an endangered species crisis. Today 14 more endangered Kemp's ridely sea turtles came in bringing our total number of live turtles in house to 73. That's a lot of turtles and a very heavy clinical load.

Our new facility is designed to deal with a high number of turtles however the last phase of the project is not complete. In 2011 we will complete the final phase of the turtle hospital with another tank and the associated life support system. This tank will be larger then the largest one we have now [Note: You can contribute to help build that tank with this form].

These are long and exhausting days for the staff and volunteers but well worth the effort.
There are so many critical turtles that we split up into teams. We had three teams inside the clinic and one team out on the tank area. I set up my station in the tank area and treated animals "pool side" on my cart (sounds like a spa!) With the help of my volunteer, Jess, we went to work on taking care of these very special little creatures.

The photo below in the left shows my treatment cart in the background and Jess, marking a turtle in the foreground. Despite the heavy treatment load right now other tasks such as pool cleaning and feeding still need to get done. In the photo on the right Jess works on one of the tanks.

Individual care is given to each animal, no matter how busy or how many treatments are on the treatment board for the day. In the photo below on the left you can see multiple lesions on the plastron and skin of this turtle. I had to scrub each wound and remove dead tissue. Next I rinsed the turtle and applied topical ointment to each wound. It took us quite a bit of time on this turtle but each one deserves everything we've got!

They had their own challenges inside the clinic. Below on the left Adam draws fluids for a turtle. At this stage of rehab, most of the turtles are still getting fluids. In order to select the most appropriate replacement fluid for each turtle we draw a little bit of blood each day (until the turtle's values have leveled out). The vets then prescribe the appropriate fluid therapy. It's all a lot of work but it works.

This was a difficult case for Adam and Dr. Cavin. Number 69 did not have a detectable heartbeat on our doppler upon arrival. Doesn't always mean they don't have a heartbeat, it just means it's so faint and infrequent that we might not be able to pick it up on the doppler. Dr. Cavin administered emergency medications to # 69 and look at the results! In the photo on the right 69 is swimming around a shallow pool! He'll be on the critical list for a while but this is the response we want to see.

How on earth do you keep all these animals straight and how do you know which animals need blood work, radiographs or treatments? Excellent questions! We put up this treatment board in the clinic to help keep us organized. Note the temperature zones at the bottom. Remember cold stun turtles can only be raised about 5 degrees (F) per day or we can do more harm then good.

Hey - look who's back! Loyal blog followers will remember long time Rescue staff member Jennifer. Jen left us to start a family but now she's back on the payroll for one day a week helping us take care of all these turtles. Welcome back Jen!

So many people were working hard today for these turtles. When I delivered blood work to the lab I found our vet staff hard at work. Below, one of the techs processes blood samples.

In the photo below Dr. Cavin holds a turtle as one of our lab techs prepares the radiograph (X-ray) machine.

The radiograph machine is digital so once the films have been taken Dr. Cavin can log in and interpret the films in real time. Look closely at the computer screen in the photos as it shows two different views of he turtle.

Below is a photo of two supervised swim pools.

And while not a sexy photo, I threw this in because I did over 15 loads of laundry today in between my treatment schedule and look at the pile! good heavens - we generate towels all day long so it's hard to catch up...maybe the bucket will be empty by Spring?!

It's hard work and long days but it comes with it's own rewards. I'm proud to work with so many dedicated and wonderful people all coming together to help these injured and distressed sea turtles.

- Connie


  1. Are you folks looking for volunteers at the Quincy facility? I'm unemployed right now, so can't contribute financially, but since I'm currently without a job I have time to give. While I don't have vet/tech training, I love animals, live nearby and would love being able to help if you need it.


  2. Tanya – Thanks, the Aquarium is always looking for volunteers. Here's a good place to get started: http://www.neaq.org/get_involved/volunteering_and_internships/volunteering/index.php

  3. Hooray for all the good work you are doing with the turtles! Thank you for all you do!

  4. Great work, rescuers! This holiday weekend, I'm particularly thankful for the work you do for these turtles and our oceans.

  5. Oh my that's a lot of turtles! You are doing a great job saving the little turtles. Thanks!

  6. Thank you for all you do for the turtles! I'm in the midwest but wish I could be there to help!