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  • Writer's pictureStar Sota

Sea Turtle Hospital News

We love every turtle that comes to us for care and hopefully a second chance. But right now a sizable adult loggerhead lady has stolen our hearts.

“Titanite” was rescued from a research pound net on July 15th and it was immediately apparent that she had been the victim of a brutal shark attack, and a fairly recent one at that. She was missing a portion of her right front flipper, had large bite marks in her neck and it looked like she had lost one of her “toes.” Her carapace was bitten through, but luckily it was near the edge and the bite did not penetrate the coelomic wall where the organs are located. And her eye looked like it had a possible laceration. She was a tragic sight.

After being settled in a shallow tank in Sick Bay Titanite began what looked to be a long period of recovery with intensive and frequent hands-on care by our staff. Obviously she was in pain, especially around her neck, and would give us the side-eye when we approached that area. She was kept as comfortable as possible with pain medication and her wounds were treated with a variety of topical and injectable meds to prevent infection and facilitate healing.

Titanite was not able to go on to our recirculating water system in Turtle Bay until she had gone through quarantine, so for her first six weeks her water had to be changed up to five times a day. She received treatment for three of those water changes, including flushing with saline and betadine, a honey soak on the wounds and application of SSD. And we still had a problem where her flipper was bitten off – there was a portion of the bone sticking out that needed to be surgically addressed – but not until she was stabilized.

Thankfully she was a good eater, and thankfully not a picky one like our Kemp’s tend to be. She was happy with whole mackerel until apparently word had gotten to her that if there was something about the breakfast preparation not to her liking we would be happy to accommodate her. She started biting off the heads and spitting them out on the bottom of her tank. Now her 3,000 grams of mackerel arrives sans heads. It doesn’t take long for them to train us.

Several weeks ago, Dr. Harms and his class of 4th year vet students arrived and Titanite was scheduled for her surgery. The protruding bone was carefully trimmed back and the wound was stitched and then bandaged with a compression bandage to minimize bleeding. Her other wounds were debrided and were showing signs of healthy tissue repair. She was placed back in her tank and back on meds for pain and infection. It wasn’t long before she was swimming around probably wondering what that thing was on her flipper. She was eating and back to her new normal of hands-on treatments the next day. Her progress has been astounding.

Titanite has relocated to Sea Turtle Bay in a large tank with recirculating water to facilitate her healing and minimize handling by our staff. And our water guru, Tina has installed a “waterfall” that she can rest under for a quick nap or carapace massage. Titanite is currently being treated once a day and still insisting on headless mackerel. You can see her from a distance from our observation ramp when you come to visit us.

We’ve now on our fall tour days and hours, and we still have patients waiting for your visit. There are major renovations scheduled for late fall, so be sure to buy your tickets soon on our website: before we close. Our hospital matriarch “Snooki” is eagerly anticipating the arrival and installation of her new fifteen-foot tank, complete with a window!

Please keep an eye out for any sea turtle activity on the beaches or in the water. As the nests continue to hatch it’s possible you’ll find a hatchling that’s gone astray. Carefully pick it up and put it in a small container with some sand and a very small amount of water - barely cover the flippers. It’s important that the little critter does not bake in the sun, or sit exposed to the elements/predators when we get these unexpected night temperature drops into the 50’s. Then call our Director of Beach Operations, Terry Meyer at: 910-470-2880. Calls to her number after hours will automatically be forwarded to her for action. You may also call the hospital during operating hours: 910-329-0222. We will take the information and one of our area coordinators will meet you to retrieve the hatchling and refer it to us for follow-up. Terry is also the contact for any sick, injured or pier-hooked turtle. The State of NC turtle hotline for strandings picks up 24/7 at 252-241-7367. Remember that interfering with or harassing federally protected sea turtles in any way makes you subject to steep fines and possible imprisonment. Our work with sea turtles, at the hospital and on the beach, is authorized by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, ES Permit 23ST05.

Titanite in her new digs enjoying her waterfall (left)

Titanite shows the amazing healing of her wounds (center) | Greetings from Titanite (right)


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