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CROW receives 2nd Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle of the year after boat strike

By Staff | Nov 25, 2015

CROW intern Yvette Carrasco helps CROW’s Assistant Wildlife Rehabilitator Rachel Walsh clean a wound on a Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle, which was brought into the clinic last Sunday after it was struck by a boat in the Naples area. BRIAN WIERIMA

The Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife on Sanibel received just its second Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle of the year, after it was brought in from the Naples area Sunday, Nov. 15, with boat strike injuries.

The two linear fracture patterns down its shell are not life threatening, despite both injuries going into its body cavity.

“The wounds did look fresh when it was brought in, maybe a day or two,” said CROW veterinarian intern Dr. Molly Lien. “There are two fractures, or linear cuts, down its shell which look like they were caused by a boat propeller. The one closest to its head is pretty deep and we are pretty positive it is interfering with its lungs.

“It did lose a lot of blood and both cuts went into its body cavity.”

Both wounds have infection in them, but with the advantage of the sea turtle being brought in early, it is not as bad as it could be.

The Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle is suspected to be a juvenile and weighs around 20 pounds. BRIAN WIERIMA

“It’s lucky the cuts didn’t go six or eight inches higher and hit its head or flipper,” Lien said. “We feel we can manage these wounds better.”

The Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle is thought to be a juvenile female, which weighs around 20 pounds. It’s the second Kemp’s Ridley to have been brought into CROW, with the first one’s injury caused by a hook and line incident.

The Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle can grow up to 100 pounds, but is still considered the smallest sea turtle species on the planet. Kemp’s Ridleys are not as common in this area of the Gulf of Mexico as Loggerheads and Greens.

They are found in much of the Gulf of Mexico and all the way up the Atlantic Coast.

On the second day of treatment at CROW, it was administered a vacuum session, which seemed to take well instantly.

“The vacuum basically applies constant pressure and helps suction off all the dead, necrotic debris around the wound,” Lien said. “Internally, it’s nice, because when the tissue all fell away from the shell, it was all vacuumed back up to the underside of the shell and helped secure it.

“Within 24 hours after its vacuum therapy, everything was nicely up next to the shell.”

The biggest challenges now will be the risk of infection and the staff’s ability to rehab it in captivity.

“So far, though, the prognosis is good for it,” Lien added.

CROW also received a special package from Minnesota last week.

A few birds received some special treatment and were flown on a private plane from Minnesota to Fort Myers, en route to CROW.

A Green Heron and a Purple Gallinule, were special guests on the plane, after staying at the Wildlife Rehab Center in Roseville, MN., and missed the migration season.

Since the chilly weather is settling in on the Midwest, the birds were flown down to Florida to complete their migration to warmer climates.

“We get contacted about this time of year where birds just missed the migration season and it’s too cold to release them up North,” said Hospital Office Manager Gareth Johnson. “In some cases, the birds have an injured wing and have to stay at the rehab center and they do miss the migration.”

If the birds check out well at CROW, they will be released in a week or two to rejoin their flocks. The Green Heron is very common in the area, but Purple

Gallinules are not.