Our Sea Turtle Healing Center sees dozens, if not over a hundred patients come through our doors each year. Every sea turtle has a unique story, but we have not seen one quite like Myrtle’s.
This adult female loggerhead sea turtle arrived at our Healing Center in May after being found by Brevard County Ocean Rescue near shore hyperventilating and bobbing her head. During her initial stay with us, her symptoms went away, and her bloodwork came back without any abnormalities.
We tried to send Myrtle home a few days later, but soon after entering the water, she began displaying her earlier symptoms. With the help of Brevard County Ocean Rescue and the Sea Turtle Preservation Society (STPS), this 257-pound sea turtle was brought back to our Healing Center for further evaluation.
To see if Myrtle had a neurological issue, our staff and STPS volunteers brought her to Rockledge Regional Medical Center for an MRI. After sedation for the MRI, Myrtle began releasing eggs. The University of Central Florida Marine Turtle Research Group (UCF MTRG) placed the 129 eggs in a hand-dug chamber on the beach to be monitored for development.
Myrtle went on to lay three more clutches – totaling over 400 eggs – during her stay with us. UCF placed all of the eggs on the beach per Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission guidelines.
So far, one of the clutches has hatched at a 60% success rate! UCF MTRG will continue to monitor the remaining three clutches throughout the summer to check for the emergence of more hatchlings.
While her eggs were being placed, our veterinary and sea turtle staff awaited the results of Myrtle’s MRI. The results showed no anatomical reason for her to have a neurological disease, so we made the decision to treat her for any possible infection in the brain using a broad-spectrum antibiotic and anti-inflammatory medication.
Myrtle responded well to these treatments, along with lots of care and nutritional support, and was deemed ready for release. Second time’s the charm!
We are happy to report that after three months of care, Myrtle was released at Lori Wilson Park at 9:30 a.m. this morning! She crawled back into the ocean during a private release as onlookers wished her well.
Have you found a sea turtle that needs help? Visit this page or call the Sea Turtle Preservation Society at 321-206-0646.
Want to help the Sea Turtle Healing Center? Support our Zoo, or view our Healing Center’s wishlist.