Good news

August 31, 2006

The storm was really nothing at all – we have worse thunderstorms on any given day in the summer! That’s good because it means no damage and no loss of power so we are back to normal here today.

Joy has been ignoring a lobster in her tank for weeks now even though we stopped feeding her “easy” food. Finally today we chased the lobster around the tank which seemed to stimulate Joy to go after it. Once she got a hold of it, the lobster did not stand a chance. Joy ate aggressively which is a good indicator that her weak jaw problems seem to have resolved. Some final blood tests, a check up by the vet, some flipper tags and she will probably be out of here in the next couple of weeks.

The time for Joy’s rehab was longer than most of the turtles we get – about 9 months. But that was not unexpected. The last turtle we had with a similar condition to Joy was Vito (a 200 pound adult male loggerhead). In his case we had to surgically place a feeding tube in his neck because we could not open his paralyzed jaw to feed him (well, that and it is not easy to haul a 200 pounder out of the tank and put a tube down his throat several times a week!) We used that tube to feed Vito the same highly nutritious pet food that Miracle is getting. Eventually he regained the use of his jaw and was released just over 9 months after we got him.

Vito with his esophagostomy (feeding tube in his esophagus)



Complaint to the management

August 25, 2006

Dear Management,

I, Miracle, would like to file an official complaint regarding the “Turtle Taco”. Being wrapped in a towel, placed in a bucket, put on public display, and having cat food (of all things) force fed to me is not very dignified for “So Excellent a Fishe”.***


Dear Miracle,

We don’t like it any more than you do. But we would like you to have every chance to recover and go back to the “Big Blue”. We do it because we care. Sorry about the cat food bit. It is special pet food designed to provide the most nutrition possible.

***”So Excellent a Fishe; A Natural History of Sea Turtles” by Archie Carr is an excellent read for anyone interested in sea turtles. Dr. Archie Carr was a pioneer in the field of sea turtle research and his books are always a fun mixture of science and a lyrical love for all things natural. The book is currently out of print but used copies can be found rather cheaply on the internet or through used book stores. Definitely worth tracking down.

Miracle update

August 21, 2006

Well, Miracle is still hanging in there. At this point, nutrition is an issue because the turtle is not eating at all. We have placed food directly in the mouth hoping it will decide to eat. This technique has been used to encourage other turtles to eat – Thud and Helmut come to mind. But Miracle is not having any of it and spits the food back out.

Last Friday we did tube feed Miracle in an attempt to provide some nutrition. We feed a mixture of prescription pet food and water through a tube we insert down the esophagus. It appears to have gone well and so we will likely start tubing this turtle 2 or 3 times a week until it begins to eat on its own.

Miracle – thanks to Chris Johnson for the photo.


General update

August 9, 2006

Fiona is fat and happy – her wound is healing very nicely. Did we mention that she is fat? F.A.T. 🙂 The scar tissue is filling in and starting to get hard and thick in places. However, some areas are still quite soft and because those areas are immediately above her lung we have to wait until they are sufficiently thick to protect her before she is released. The tissue is starting to develop some pigment which corresponds to the patterns on her scutes – changing from pink to dark grey.

Joy is, well, fat and happy. Just a matter of time for her as well. Sometime in the next few weeks we would like to try some more whole lobster on her to gauge how her jaw strength is improving. It is lobster season here in south Florida so if any of you divers have a couple of lobsters to spare Joy would appreciate it.

Belize and Jonah continue to grow. We are still waiting for Belize to be able to dive consistently before we can comfortably release him.

Miracle is still hanging in there. Getting some supervised pool time. We are hoping that the soft tissue damage will resolve without leaving permanent neurological damage – more “wait and see”.

Hugo will go very soon – maybe next week.  Sparrow continues to recover well – that is one mad turtle that wants out of here now. Sparrow will likely get released about 2 minutes after the stitches come out!

Tomorrow we have a new patient coming from the St. Lucie power plant. Anemic, emaciated sub-adult loggerhead – or “the usual”. This is certainly the most common type of turtle we get at the center. The greens – especially the big ones – have been a refreshing change.

Happy dance

August 4, 2006

If you had been in the yard early today you would have seen a happy dance. And the reason for celebration:


Yeah baby! Experienced turtle folks will know exactly what that is. It’s what we have been waiting for from our friend Lola. It’s, uh, ‘recycled’ crab bits and sand dollars. This means that her digestive tract is working as it should. The good news for this very hungry turtle is that we can begin to increase the amount of food she is getting. She has been complaining bitterly that the portions have been small for a girl her size – but we had to wait until we knew that things were moving before we could up her rations. So she may be pleasantly surprised today at lunch with some extra squid on her plate.

In other news, everyone else is doing well. Sparrow ate yesterday which was a surprise given the surgery the day before. Sparrow is mad and pacing and will be out of here as soon as the incision is healed. Miracle is still hanging in there. We are hoping that the injury is mostly soft tissue swelling and bruising that will improve over time.

Busy Wednesday

August 3, 2006

Yesterday was busy here in turtle world. Sparrow’s hook was removed at Harmony Animal Hospital by Dr. Mettee on her day off – talk about a “busman’s holiday“! Surgery was successful and was filmed by Channel 5 for the evening news. Nothing like working under the glare of a TV camera . . . They did a nice job with the piece and even gave us a plug for the veterinary facilities in the new center.

While waiting for Sparrow to wake up we thought she looked pretty silly with the bite block in her mouth.


Yup, that’s a dog bone and it works great!

In the midst of surgery we got a call that another turtle had come in. This was a little green with a propeller strike to the head. Ouch. There is also damage to the carapace but that is of much less concern. We got an emergency MRI last night with the great people at Jupiter OMI to see how bad the damage is. The damage was not so severe as to warrant an immediate euthanasia (our main concern is not wanting the turtle to suffer if there is no chance of recovery). So we are taking it day-by-day with this turtle. So far it is holding it’s own. By the way, it was named Miracle by our friends at OMI.

There was another turtle here briefly last weekend.  It was a small green with fibropapillomatosis.  Since we do not treat “pap” turtles here it was slated to go to another facility but sadly it did not survive the night.