Posts Tagged 'kemp’s ridley'

Turtle Tuesday: An MRI Scan For Blade

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Participating in the rehabilitation of endangered sea turtles is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job. As you probably already know, the National Aquarium is part of a stranding response network that encompasses the North East region of the United States. Many of the turtles we handle initially are found as “cold stunned” along Cape Cod beaches in Massachusetts.

New England Aquarium stabilizes animals and rehabilitates many, but often reaches out to partner organizations such as us for assistance. This was the case for one of the animals currently in our care, Blade, who came to us last December.

national aquarium animal rescue blade

Blade initially had a large fracture of the upper and lower shell (carapace and plastron) that healed nicely over the first two months of rehabilitation. After initially improving, Blade started to decline significantly in mid-February. Diagnostics showed he was septic (systemic bacterial infection) with a resistant strain of Enterococcus bacteria.

His front flipper digit joints began to swell and it appeared he had bacterial infections developing in them and he stopped using his front limbs. This is very rare in sea turtles; normally digit infections don’t impact their swimming ability.

Radiographs and a CT scan showed the shoulder joints were infected as well. Biopsy and cultures confirmed the joint infection was due to the same bacteria found in the blood.

national aquarium animal rescue blade

After aggressive antibiotic therapy and general supportive care, we were able to resolve the sepsis and distal limb infections and he showed some improvement in strength, but remained unusually quiet and weak and refused to use the front limbs. A physical therapy program was started to improve limb motion.

In order to check for bacterial abscesses in his organs and brain, we took Blade for an MRI scan at Veterinary Imaging of the Chesapeake. There were was no evidence of organ or brain abscesses found on MRI, although the shoulder joints were abnormal, as expected.

**Photos courtesy of Red Leash Photography

In the last month, Blade has continued to improve clinically and we are planning to do an arthroscopy to remove abnormal and potentially infected tissue from the shoulder joints. Our ultimate goal is to get Blade to a point where we can be released.

Stay tuned for more updates on Blade as his rehabilitation continues!

national aquarium Leigh Clayton

An Update on Our Animal Rescue Patients

national aquarium Animal Rescue Update

As you saw in last week’s update, 11 of our 19 sea turtle patients are stable and ready for release! We’re working closely with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and officials from the state of Florida to set a release date for these animals!

In addition to our turtle patients ready for release, we do still have 8 active medical cases, and some of them have proven to be interesting challenges for our veterinary staff.

Here are updates on a few of our active cases!

Charlie

Charlie was previously diagnosed with an unknown mass near his heart. After his diagnosis, our veterinary staff prescribed an innovative treatment for Charlie – baby aspirin. He has been responding well to treatment, is eating well, and behaving normally.

national aquarium turtle charlie

A repeat echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) this week revealed that the mass is still present, though reduced in size. While Charlie is showing no clinical signs from the mass, his medical case will continue to be active until we can perform more tests to determine what the mass is, and if it is a symptom of a yet unidentified underlying issue.

Blade

Blade was admitted as a cold-stun, but also had a traumatic (possible boat strike) injury to the left side of his carapace and bottom shell that was dangerously close to penetrating through into his body cavity. The good news for Blade is that the suspected boat strike injury has completely healed, thanks to regular wound cleaning and a minor surgery.

national aquarium animal rescue blade

Unfortunately, Blade is still fighting an active infection in his right front flipper, and his condition is still critical. Blade recently underwent a CT scan, and the results indicate an active bone infection in his right shoulder. Bone infections can be difficult to treat, but our Animal Health staff have been working hard to monitor and treat the infection appropriately. Yesterday, Blade underwent additional x-rays, blood work, and a sedated procedure to extract some infected cells so we can identify whether the infection is bacterial or fungal.

Our staff are keeping Blade as comfortable as possible, and doing everything they can to help him fight the infection.

Stay tuned for more updates on our sea turtle patients and be sure to follow me on Twitter for a behind-the-scenes look at our rehab efforts! 

Animal Rescue Expert

Animal Rescue Update: Two Turtle Patients Now in Rehab!

national aquarium Animal Rescue Update

With water temperatures in the Atlantic steadily dropping, sea turtles that perhaps stayed north a little too long are now faced with a long journey south towards warmer waters. Some of these sea turtles become cold-stunned (an illness equivalent to hypothermia in humans) and strand on our shores. This week, we received our first cold-stunned sea turtle patients of the season, two Kemp’s ridleys named Iceman and Maverick!

national aquarium kemps ridley turtle

Our new arrivals both stranded within two days of one another off the coast of New Jersey, where water temperatures had taken a rapid dip into the low 60s over the last few months.

Iceman came in which a few small abrasions and a long laceration under his front flipper. He has weighed in at 7 pounds and has started to eat more regularly. His diet right now consists of squid, shrimp, and smelt.

national aquarium kemps ridley turtle

Maverick weighs in at only 2 pounds and the rescue team is currently trying to get him to eat more regularly. Just like most of us don’t like to eat when we don’t feel well, we can only imagine how these little sea turtles feel when they first enter rehabilitation. So, our staff try to entice him with different foods to stimulate his hunting instincts and get him to eat. As of today, Maverick has started showing more signs of an appetite. Although small, we’re very pleased with this great start!

Stay tuned for more updates on these turtles progress in rehab, and stay tuned to find out which Top Gun name we choose for our next patient! 

national aquarium animal rescue expert

Thoughtful Thursdays: Endangered Species Spotlight on Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles

Endangered Species Day, celebrated on May 17th, was established to raise awareness of the issues (both human-related and ecological) facing endangered species and their habitats. 

To help further amplify this day, we’ll be highlighting some endangered species that can be found in our home state of Maryland, at the National Aquarium and around the world! Our hope is that as this week progresses, others will feel inspired to help us protect these amazing animals! 

Animal Rescue Update

Kemp’s ridley Lepidochelys kempii sea turtles are the smallest of all the sea turtle species and are listed as “critically endangered” by the IUCN. “Small” is a relative term for sea turtles, as the Kemp’s can weigh as much as 80 to 100 pounds as adults, and their shell can grow to about 2 feet long. Their carapace (top shell) is usually heart-shaped and brown to grey in color.

kemp's ridley

A rehabilitated Kemp’s ridley turtle being released by National Aquarium staff.

Kemp’s ridley’s are highly migratory and seasonal visitors to Maryland waters. They can often be found in coastal areas, including the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic coast, from late May to October. While here, they feed on an assortment of crabs, shellfish and jellies, and will occasionally munch on seaweed. Cooler water temperatures in the fall signal the turtles to migrate south – reptiles are ectothermic, meaning their internal body temperature is dependent on the water temperature.

kemp's ridley

One of our current rehabilitation patients munching on a blue crab.

Along the northeast and mid-Atlantic in late fall and early winter, Kemp’s can become victims of cold-stunning. Cold-stunning is effectively hypothermia (low body temperature), which causes the turtles to stop eating and ultimately become severely sick. The 2012 cold-stun season was a record for the northeast. We currently have two Kemp’s ridley sea turtles in rehabilitation with our National Aquarium Animal Rescue team, and both were admitted as cold-stuns.

kemp's ridley

Since being listed as an Endangered Species in 1994, the US and Mexico have worked cooperatively to protect critical nesting habitats for the Kemp’s, resulting in an increase in successful nesting and hatching. Kemp’s still face many threats, though, many of which are human-related. The good news is that YOU can help protect Kemp’s ridley sea turtle populations!

Stay tuned for more features on endangered species this week! 

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#SeaTurtleTrek Update – And They’re Off!

The team from New England Aquarium arrived in Baltimore this evening ready to pick up our rehabilitated sea turtles and journey onto Florida for release!

Chet, a Kemp's ridley turtle, is ready to go on his adventure!

Chet, a Kemp’s ridley turtle, is ready to go on his adventure!

As we continue to travel down the East Coast, more turtles from our organization partners are being slated for release! Our teams will be making additional stops at Virginia Aquarium and South Carolina Aquarium to pick up additional turtles.

Members of our MARP team prepping Biff, a green sea turtle, for the trip!

Members of our MARP team prepping Biff, a green sea turtle, for the trip!

Prior to New England’s arrival, our Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) team did final examinations of each turtle, placed them in their respective transport crates and covered them in a water-based lubricant to keep the turtles happy and feeling good during the 1,200 mile trek down to Jacksonville, Florida.

Once the crew from New England Aquarium arrived, our team quickly packed up the turtles and hit the road!

Once the crew from New England Aquarium arrived, our team quickly packed up the turtles and hit the road!

Want to see where the team is on their journey? Follow their live updates on Twitter, Google Plus, Tumblr and Instagram using #SeaTurtleTrek  and/or check out this satellite map that’s tracking their progress:

Click on this map to pull up the trek's current geo-location!

Click on this map to pull up the trek’s current geo-location!

Stay tuned for more #SeaTurtleTrek updates from the road! 

Thoughtful Thursdays: MARP Turtle Update

This year, our friends at the New England Aquarium have received a record number of turtle patients to their Animal Care Center. After more than 160 severely cold stunned turtles came through their doors in the past month, they reached out to our Marine Animal Rescue Program (MARP) team for help in rehabilitating some of these turtles for release.

New England Aquarium's Animal Care Center is filled to the brim with patients!

New England Aquarium’s Animal Care Center is filled to the brim with patients!
Photo via NEAQ

We currently have seven patients in our Animal Care Center’s turtle rehab area – three Kemp’s ridleys, three green sea turtles and one loggerhead.

One of our green sea turtle patients

One of our green sea turtle patients

All seven of our turtle patients are being treated for cold stunning – a hypothermic reaction that occurs when sea turtles are exposed to cold water for a prolonged period of time. In addition to cold stunning, two of the turtles have also presented common complications including pneumonia and unstable blood pH. Our team is working hard to treat these specific problems and the overall health of each turtle.

This Kemp's ridley is used to its new surroundings in our turtle rehab area!

This Kemp’s ridley is used to its new surroundings in our turtle rehab area!

The loggerhead turtle was the first patient to arrive at our facility from New England. In addition to being cold stunned, this turtle had also suffered from a dramatic injury to its front-right flipper, sustained before the initial rescue. As a result, the flipper had to be amputated. Although we’re always saddened to see these types of severe injuries, this new patient is a great example of how far our animal rehabilitation efforts have come in recent years.

Our loggerhead patient is by far our largest!

Our loggerhead patient is by far our largest!

As many may know, our beloved 400-pound green sea turtle, Calypso, originally came to National Aquarium as a rescue. Weighing just 6 pounds, this small turtle was cold stunned and had an infected left front flipper. The flipper was not treatable and was amputated. After the amputation, Calypso was deemed “non-releasable” by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA).

Calypso, a beloved member of our Aquarium family, has grown to weigh more than 400 lbs!

Calypso, a beloved member of our Aquarium family, has grown to weigh more than 400 pounds!

In more recent years, research has shown that many turtles with natural front flipper amputations can survive in the wild. In fact, we were able to rehabilitate and release our first turtle with an amputation, lovingly referred to as “Ed,” in 2006. Our MARP team tracked Ed via satellite tag to ensure that he was doing well after release.

We’re happy to report that our loggerhead patient is doing so well that we have an exit exam scheduled in early January. If all goes well, the turtle will be transferred to North Carolina for release!

Stay tuned for more updates from our MARP team! 


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