The Sea Turtle Healing Center cares for sick or injured sea turtles found primarily along the nearby Florida coast. While this facility is not open to the public, the effects of its work impact local sea turtle populations. An in-county facility means a shorter drive for patients, resulting in less stress and quicker treatment for distressed turtles.
Date admitted: December 18, 2021
Stranding location: Vero Beach
Status: In treatment
Admission notes: This juvenile green sea turtle stranded in Vero Beach on December 18 with a laceration across their head from a boat propeller. Staff performed surgery the day of intake to stabilize the fracture. They placed screws in the bone of the skull and wires to bring the screws together, fastening the fracture. A CT scan was performed and confirmed what we were seeing externally, which was damage and exposure of the neurocranium. This sea turtle has severe inflammation around both eyes, so it has been hard to see if the eyes are viable or if there is even vision left. Triceratops is healthy despite the injuries, so we gave them a chance but remain guarded with their prognosis.
March 24, 2022: Triceratops has slowly but surely made progress. We have been able to continuously increase the amount of food given through their e-tube without them regurgitating. This sea turtle is also more active during the day. Tops can find their “itchy” enrichment on their own and use it to scratch their shell or sleep on it. We have still not been able to tell if Triceratops can see out of their remaining eye, but recently they reacted to the overhead tank lights abruptly turning on at night. One night, a staff member turned the bright lights on above the pools and it spooked Triceratops, meaning there is at least enough vision to tell light from dark. We have also been able to remove the remaining bits of dead bone from their cranial fracture. The fracture site is shockingly deep but it healed well.
February 23, 2022: Last week, Triceratops visited Dr. Fife, a board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist. Dr. Fife was able to visualize their left eye and confirmed it was rotated down but looked healthy and gave us a few reasons as to why this was happening. We have since started leaving this sea turtle out of their kiddie pool. They can slowly navigate their pool and even scratch their shell on their itchy. We have also started noticing them opening their eyelids wider since starting a regime of flushing the extra salt secretions out of their eye.
February 7, 2022: Triceratops continues to be lethargic, but loves a good shell scratch with a brush. They are still being fed through their e-tube and we have not seen them open their left eye fully yet. This sea turtle will be seeing a specialist next week to determine the viability of their remaining eye.
January 17, 2022: Triceratops has made small amounts of progress. With ocular NSAIDs, we were able to alleviate the inflammation of the conjunctiva. The area was so inflamed we could not assess if this sea turtle even had viable eyes. After the inflammation subsided, staff was able to get a better look. The left eye is looking promising, but the right eye is damaged. Triceratops’ right eye is experiencing uveitis, extreme inflammation of the globe, rendering it unusable. We are hoping we can leave the eye in and it will not become infected. Over time, with no complications, the eye will shrivel and the socket will fill in. Besides their eyes, the cranial fracture is healing, but this sea turtle is still very lethargic. An e-tube was placed to facilitate feeding while they heal, as they have not shown any interest in eating yet.
Have you found a sea turtle that needs help? Visit this page or call the Sea Turtle Preservation Society at 321-206-0646.