Biscuits returns home

Hi all,
We received great news last week from the Georgia Sea Turtle Center (GSTC). Our large female loggerhead "Biscuits" has been returned to her ocean home!

The photos were kindly sent to us from the folks at GSTC.
Biscuits starting her journey back into the ocean. (Photo: Georgia Sea Turtle Center)
Close up photo of Biscuits. (Photo: Georgia Sea Turtle Center)
(Photo: Georgia Sea Turtle Center)
Good Luck Biscuits. Have  a safe journey!  (Photo: Georgia Sea Turtle Center)

Short video of "Biscuits" heading back to the ocean. Video courtesy of Georgia Sea Turtle Center.

One of our other turtles, "Snagglepuss" (087) that made the trip to Georgia with Biscuits was also released. 
"Snagglepuss" on its way home. (Photo: Georgia Sea Turtle Center)

Good luck, "Biscuits" and "Snagglepuss"!

— Adam


Update on #67: Kaboom gets a laparoscopy

We've been following turtle #067—a rescued Kemp's ridley sea turtle—during rehabilitation after it washed up on a beach with hypothermia this fall. First it took a field trip for specialized diagnostics, then it had a bronchoscopy. Today's post is about a laparoscopy.

Most of you are probably familiar with this type of procedure as many of the human surgeries nowadays are performed laparoscopically. This eliminates making a long incision in order to get to a certain organ. Instead, you make one, or a few small holes just big enough to guide the scope and whatever other surgical instruments you need to use. Our turtle just needed one small incision in order for our veterinarians to insert the scope to the turtle’s coelomic cavity (the inside of the body where all the organs are).

Drs. Innis and Cavin performing the laparoscopy procedure. The monitor in front of them 
shows what the scope camera sees inside the turtle.

The first thing we found out about #067 was… it’s a girl!! Normally you cannot tell if a young sea turtle is a male or a female because they do not have any external body features that would be different. However, with the scope we were able to see the ovaries, which is a female reproductive organ.

This picture shows #067's ovary, which looks like a bunch of little balls called follicles.
The arrow is pointing out one of the follicles.

After a few minutes we found the lungs and started visually inspecting the tissue. Most of the lung area looked normal and healthy, however, our veterinarians did find an area in the right lung with some diseased tissue. They decided to sample a small section of that lung for further tests.

Here you can see healthy lung tissue. The arrow points out an area with a lot of air pockets,
where the lung inflate with air during a breath.

This picture below shows the area of abnormal lung tissue, which is getting biopsied using a special surgical string. The way this sampling method works is, you pull the section of the tissue you want to sample through the loop of the string and then cinch the string making the loop smaller and smaller until it cuts through the tissue freeing up your sample.

The area of abnormal lung tissue

After the sample was taken, the biopsy site was closed with stainless steel surgical clips. Now every time we take x-rays of this turtle we will be able to see these clips!

Dr. Innis transferring the lung sample into the vials to be shipped for further testing.

Dr. Cavin suturing up the incision site on #067 after the procedures were completed.

#067, or Kaboom, did very well throughout the whole procedure. It took her about two hours to fully wake up from the anesthesia. By the end of the day she was swimming back in her tank! #067 remains on antibiotics and we are awaiting her final test results from the biopsy.


Update on turtle #67: Kaboom gets a bronchoscopy

We've been following turtle #067—a rescued Kemp's ridley sea turtle—during rehabilitation after it washed up on a beach with hypothermia last fall. First it took a field trip for specialized diagnostics. Today's post is about a bronchoscopy.

Our last post about #67—or Kaboom—was about her CT scan procedure performed at Massachusetts Veterinary Referral Hospital. The CT scan confirmed pneumonia and revealed an area in the right lung with diseased tissue. Our veterinary staff determined it was necessary to perform further diagnostic procedures in order to understand how bad the lungs really were and determine the best course of action.

#067 had to be intubated and put under anesthesia for the procedures. Here, Aquarium staff intubates the turtle.

Last week #067 was transported from the Animal Care Center in Quincy to the main building of the Aquarium in Boston, where she underwent two procedures: a bronchoscopy and a laparoscopy. In this post, we'll talk about the bronchoscopy.

Both procedures are pretty similar in the sense that they use a scope with a light and a camera in order to visually examine internal organs; in this case our main focus was lungs. The bronchoscopy required our veterinarians to insert a little scope through the trachea ultimately reaching the bronchi of the lung. This allows the veterinarians to visualize the lung tissue and determine if it looks normal or diseased.

Dr. Charlie Innis maneuvering the scope down the trachea towards the bronchi.

Here you can see the part of the trachea that splits into two bronchi: the left leading to the left lung
and right leading to the right lung.

Upon initial visual examination we did not see anything that looked bad, the lung tissue appeared normal and there was no mucous or discharge.

The right lung tissue as we saw it during the bronchoscopy

While we were inspecting the lungs with the bronchoscope, we also performed what we call a “tracheal wash”. This was done by inserting a small sterile catheter (tube) through the trachea into the bronchi and injecting a small amount of sterile saline solution into the bronchi/lungs, which was then pulled back into the syringe and sampled. The idea behind the tracheal wash is to get the bacteria or fungus that is causing the pneumonia to “mix” with the saline solution so that we can get a good sample of it. When we do, we can hopefully find out what microorganism it is and what antibiotic or antifungal will be most effective in fighting it.

On the outside: Dr. Charles Innis holds the scope in place while Dr. Julie Cavin injects sterile saline solution through the clear catheter leading into the lungs through the scope.

On the inside: The lung tissues with the tip of the catheter before we injected the saline solution.
Since the bronchoscopy did not reveal any bad lung tissue that we could sample for further tests, our veterinarians decided to proceed to the laparoscopy. We'll be posting about this during a later post. Stay tuned!