By now most of you have seen a lot of photos of general activities during this sea turtle event. I thought I would introduce you to a few of the patients so you can meet them on an individual level.
Below is a close up photo of the loggerhead that came in on Wednesday. This animal came in unresponsive and was just over 38 degrees (F) upon arrival.
In the photo below, Kerry disinfects the area of skin where she will insert a needle to collect a blood sample.
We administered emergency medications to this animal and then rotated staff through to stay with him/her to stimulate the animal. If we leave these animals alone during this critical phase they can easily slip away as they enter a breath holding phase and the heart rate continues to drop. The stimulation reminds them to breath and keeps their heart pumping. Most of the stimulation happens in the water, their natural habitat. In the photo below the loggerhead is propped up on a towel in the pool during a break in stimulation activity.
Below is the same loggerhead on day two. As you can see the animal is beginning to paddle around the pool slowly. The water temp in the pool is still only about 10 degrees higher then when the animal stranded the day before. These hypothermic sea turtles are increased 5 degrees/day or we'll do more harm then good.
I thought I would introduce you to a few other patients as well. Below is #62. This animal is in critical condition due to both hypothermia and a severe fracture to the carapace (top shell). Once stable enough for surgery this animal will be operated on to repair the shell. Until then the animal is handled with great care and is medication for pain management.
Below is #89. I showed photos of this animal in a previous blog. You will notice in the photo on the right that the rear flipper is swollen and has an associated scar on the knee. Radiographs (X-rays) did not indicate a fracture in this flipper. Repeat radiographs will be taken on a regular basis to monitor for a possible bone infection. Staff are also monitoring the limb for increased or reduced swelling.
The photos below shows #47. Note the tiny rear flipper on the right side of the photo on the left and on the left side of the photo on the right...(maybe after another cup of coffee that will make more sense...) The photo on the right clearly shows the size difference between the two rear flippers. This is an old injury and seems to have healed itself. It doesn't seem to pose a problem to the overall health of this turtle. I've watched this turtle swim in the tank and you will be happy to know that he doesn't constantly go in circles to the right, he's found a way to compensate for the loss of that "rudder"
Tomorrow is a big day for us. The United States Coast Guard is stepping up to help us with this emergency situation. Tomorrow, a US Coast Guard flight crew will take 20 of our endangered sea turtles down to Florida for additional rehabilitation and subsequent release when they are healthy. Our colleagues at SeaWorld of Orlando have agreed to help by taking some of these turtles. Our case load right now is full and days are still very long. Sending some of these turtles will help us reduce the clinical case load and create more space for the loggerheads that will be stranding over the next few weeks.