Sea Turtles in Jeopardy

Jan 20th Update:  The turtles are on their way back to the sea!  They were picked up yesterday and are being transported back to where they belong!

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When my friend called last night and asked if I wanted to go with her today to give some antibiotics to a sea turtle, of course, I jumped at the chance. Melody is married to a man (Norm) who has dedicated his life to helping animals – all animals. Not only is she the wife of a great veterinarian, she has also spent the last 28 years as his assistant, tech, righthand man. (Well, in this case, woman.) With Norm being out of town for a Vet Conference, it fell to Melody to go give the antibiotic injections.~

The turtle we went to see is not in very good condition.  He is weak from being in the cold water and has suffered frostbite on his face.  He is a young Green Sea Turtle.

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He was very weak and tried to struggle, but the struggle didn’t last too long. 

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He calmed down so he could be examined.  The frostbite is the white part going up over his nose and between his eyes. 

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Sea Turtles are like lizards and frogs – they tend to relax when turned upside down.

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You can get a pretty good idea how small this guy is as he is resting in Jack Rudloe’s hands.  Jack owns and runs the Gulf Speciman Marine Lab.

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The best place to give the injection is the soft tissue around the hind legs.

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In it goes!  OUCHIE!!!

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After he was released back into the water, he spent about 30 seconds flapping madly!  Jack says they do this as a defense.  It’s what they do when a shark comes up and grabs them from behind.  They splash like crazy, hoping the shark will let go.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t!

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I don’t really know what I expected when I got to the Aquarium.  I knew the weather here in Florida had been unusually cold for the last couple weeks, but I didn’t know it had been so cold that the water temp of the Gulf dropped dramatically.  This caused major problems for the Sea Turtles.  They get stunned by the cold and can’t swim.  Many suffer frostbite.  I learned a massive effort to rescue some of the distressed turtles happened last week.  Over 1600 turtles were rescued!

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No one facility could handle all of the turtles, so they were divided and sent to facilities all over the state.  The Gulf Speciman Lab near me took in 60 of the beasties.

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To say I was stunned to see so many Sea Turtles in one place is putting it mildly.  There were several different tanks set up for them.

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Most are Green Sea Turtles, but there were two of the Atlantic Ridley’s.  All are endangered, but the Ridley’s even more so.

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The one pointing down is one of the Ridley’s.

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Many of the turtles had barnacles growing on them – some even had snails attached to them.  If you look very closely over this guy’s left paw, you can see one of them.

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The turtles are just here until the Gulf warms back up.  Most had been stunned from the cold and unable to swim.  A few suffered mild frostbite.  They had been watching this one particular turtle for several days and decided since Melody was there with antibiotics to go ahead and check him out.

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He was netted and grabbed.

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After examining him, they decided to go ahead and isolate him and give him some antibiotics.

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As we took the turtle back inside to an isolation tank, I passed a tank with this guy clinging on the side.  I, being the ‘touchy-feeling’ kinda person that I am, put my hand up on the side of the tank.

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He must have thought I had food because he spread to see to who was there!  What a pretty boy! 

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Once the 2nd turtle was inside, he was examined more closely.  Again, the white above and over his eyes is the tissue damaged from the frostbite.  Although this one may look worst than the first guy, he is not near as weak and they are hopeful about him!

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Just like the first turtle, this guy was flipped over onto his back!

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Injection was given in the same spot – the soft tissue around the back leg.

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This guy was EXCEPTIONALLY relaxed!

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We checked the first turtle and he wasn’t doing so well.  Melody and I are both worried about him.

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Everytime Melody put her hand in the water, this silly fish swam up and tried to bite her!  He actually connected once!  What a bad boy!!

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Also there recovering is a critically endangered Hawksbills Turtle.  As you can see, he is missing a front flapper.  Probably the result of a meeting with a shark!

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He is very young, but is healing nicely and seems to be adjusting to swimming minus-one.  The hopes are that one day soon, he will go free!

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Many, many turtles were rescued, but Jack has fears about the ones left out there.  They may have survived the cold spell, but if they suffered frostbite, we could see more weak and sick turtles in need over the coming weeks.

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In the meantime, there is this one little guy I know who could really, really use some prayers and warm, healing thoughts!

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The rest of the beasties should be released back out into their home in the next week or so.  The cold spell seems to be over and the temps are moving up.  Jack also said a nice warm front has come up from further down in the Gulf and that will help to warm things back up.  I’ll keep ya posted!!

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14 Responses to Sea Turtles in Jeopardy

  1. Nancy says:

    Thanks for documenting this. I sure hope they make it!

  2. Burma says:

    Poor things but glad at least they are getting help.

  3. Sandy says:

    So many??!! Glad to know there are good people taking care of them. Keep us posted.

  4. Cindy says:

    What a sad but very interesting day you had. I had no idea the sea turtles were so endangered by this temperature drop.

    Will send good healing thoughts for all of them

  5. JSmith says:

    thanks for the pics and info!!!

  6. Sukie says:

    Wow, Judy!

  7. Fran says:

    I’m praying that little one makes it, Judy. I love the octopus! They are so neat. And, as usual, great photos taken in difficult surroundings. I’m going to see the manatees on Wednesday…wish you were going with me.

  8. Pamela says:

    You can be sure i will keep these little guys in my thoughts and prayers. Since we (humanity) have done so much which has caused the decrease in the numbers of these sweet beasties, the least we can do is save as many as we can. Great pictures, great blog!!

  9. Chris says:

    Oh Judy. I am so sad about the poor turtles. But also glad to know there
    are places like the place you visited to help them out.

  10. Melissa says:

    Great blog! Hope the litte one pulls through!

  11. Jewell says:

    Judy, you do have the best adventures, although it is true many of them are very sad, the sick, injured, and mistreated creatures you get to meet, care for, and love.

    Yep, I can tell you love all of them, and you make us love them, too. Please keep telling us your stories and sharing your wonderful pictures.

    I hope the sea turtles can survive their frostbite, and I am grateful that your friend and her husband dedicate so much of their lives to the inhabitants of our earth that make our lives richer.

  12. Jet says:

    Thanks for the pics and blog! hope they all get well again.

  13. Robin says:

    I so love your blogs Judy. This one made my heart hurt, These poor guys. How do you stay away. I would want to move in.

  14. Sharon says:

    Very much appreciated and I hope the little guys (turtles) make it.

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