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: July 19, 2020
Stranding location: Seagull Beach, Patrick Shores
Status: In treatment
Admission notes: Venus is a juvenile green sea turtle that was found by East Coast Biologists during their population studies on July 19. This turtle was severely entangled in fishing line, mostly around the front flippers, and they had a loose couple of strands on the rear right flipper. The fishing line around the front flippers was tight, cutting into the skin and wearing into the bone. The health and integrity of the humoral bones had been severely affected. Besides the damage to the front flippers, Venus had a great body weight, their bloodwork was normal and the tissue cut by the fishing line showed no signs of infection or necrosis. This turtle was also very lively and is already showing signs of acclimating well to rehabilitation, as they eat and enjoy some of their enrichments. Upon intake, we started antibiotics, laser therapy, honey therapy, flipper massages and even leech therapy in attempts to keep the area clean and the blood flowing to the flippers. We are hoping with time to heal, Venus can regain some of the integrity in their humoral bones. For now, Venus takes it slow and swims around their tank using mostly their rear flippers.
March 24, 2022: Venus has a new favorite enrichment, the “Turtle Hurdle”. It looks like a hurdle jump, but it’s really meant for shell scratching. This sea turtle is seen spending a lot of time using the Turtle Hurdle and has even been seen getting McNubbins interested in it. McNubbins will politely, but firmly, let Venus know when it is her turn.
February 23, 2022: Venus has been up to their usual business: scratching on enrichments, eating, pooping and “chatting” with McNubbins. We frequently see these two laying in front of each other, exchanging glances. You can’t help but wonder if they are communicating or what they are thinking. Recent studies have suggested that we have been underestimating how social sea turtles are within their species and we think these two are good examples of that!
February 7, 2022: Venus has their favorite buddy, McNubbins, back. Historically, these two sea turtles have lived very well with each other and even seem to enjoy each other’s company. They are very tactile and are always curious as to what the other one is doing. Since the release of Kringle, there was a 12-foot pool open that allowed this reunion to happen.
January 17, 2022: Staff is looking into different methods to determine gender before going forward with scoping Venus again. There is a way gender could possibly be determined by testing hormone levels in their blood, so we are looking into pursuing this method.
December 30, 2021: Venus has readjusted to being back at the Healing Center and is up to their usual antics. As part of the process to assess if they are releasable, we felt it necessary to know their gender. Our team performed a scope on December 20, but due to technical difficulties, we were unable to clearly see their gonads. We will reschedule in a month and try again.
December 9, 2021: Venus recently spent two weeks at The Florida Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center. Reports are that they did great and used the pool to its capacity! Venus and McNubbins returned home from their adventure in Tampa on December 2.
November 15, 2021: Venus has a new roommate, McNubbins. These two are scheduled to both leave for deep-water trials at The Florida Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center to assess their diving capabilities. It would be easier if they could share a pool at that facility, so we wanted to make sure they were compatible before sending them off. McNubbins had shown a lot of interest in Venus, and at first, Venus was hesitant about their advances. Now, they seem like best buds!
October 20, 2021: With persistent prodding and nudging by Venus, their roommate Jammer’s personality started to come out! These two can now be seen using the same enrichments and they spend a lot of time hanging out together.
October 10, 2021: Venus has a new roommate and they are unsure about them. Jammer is very laid back and has little interest in her, so they don’t interact much. Venus will try to play or get a reaction out of Jammer, but Jammer stands their ground and doesn’t pay much attention.
September 21, 2021: Venus continues to be an excellent patient. We are still on hold for their deep-water trial, but this sea turtle is very good at keeping themself entertained! Venus is always busy with some enrichment. Many volunteers ask, “Do they really need all of these toys?” and then proceed to watch Venus use them ALL.
August 30, 2021: Venus is adapting to living on their own again and is enjoying not having to share their favorite enrichments. This sea turtle even received a new PVC enrichment called “The Starship Enterprise,” which is designed to look like the famous Star Trek spaceship. Hopefully, Venus will find themself in less intergalactic trouble than the captains of the original ship! So far, it’s been great for belly rubbing!
August 3, 2021: Venus has been moved into a large pool with a new roommate, Pickles. This sea turtle has been a great “buddy” to sea turtles in the past, meaning they’ve lived well with others. This move was made to give Venus a large pool again while the other pools are occupied. Pickles has been checked for parasites, so we know this pairing will be safe! So far, these two have been getting along great. Venus shows a lot more interest in hanging out with Pickles than they did with their previous roommate, Pumpkin. They are often seen sleeping or relaxing close to each other and sometimes, Venus is seen laying on top of Pickles!
June 25, 2021: Venus has moved to a smaller pool as we make room for new patients. They do not seem to mind as now all of their favorite toys are closer together and they don’t have to swim far to use any of them. Venus really enjoys the Ulva algae that grows in the Zoo that our aquarists have been kind enough to harvest for us!
May 17, 2021: Venus is now living it up in their own pool without roommates. They have all the enrichment devices to themselves and do not have to share their favorite back scratcher. The only downfall is that Venus no longer has opportunities to steal or scavenge their roommate’s food.
April 26, 2021: We are still in the process of evaluating Venus’s ability to be released, but we are leaning toward non-releasable due to the extent of their injuries. There is worry this sea turtle will not be fast enough to evade boats and handle other physical challenges in the water. We are looking into sending Venus to a different facility for a short period of time to see how they do in deeper pools. This sea turtle has been such a great roommate to Pumpkin, who will be released soon. These two are often seen sharing enrichments and taking post-feeding naps together. While sea turtles are generally solitary in their natural range, Venus and Pumpkin have been inseparable. We hope Venus won’t miss Pumpkin too much!
March 8, 2021: Venus and Pumpkin had been showing so much interest in each other that we pulled out the barrier in between them to see if they could live together without any drama. At first, Pumpkin would constantly and slowly stalk Venus around the pool and Venus was not too thrilled about their advances. After a quick introduction period, these two are now close buddies! With Venus being very food-driven, we have been making sure they do not sneak any of Pumpkin’s proteins during feeding. It is a coordinated and tactical dance of keeping Venus preoccupied with lettuce while Pumpkin finishes off their proteins!
January 28, 2021: The biopsy spots are finally healed and Venus has been taken off all medications. Due to the severity of this sea turtle’s injuries, we do not know the long-term of how their flipper will heal and because of this, we suspect that this sea turtle may not be releasable. The next step for Venus will be seeing how they do in deeper water! This will tell us if they will be a good candidate for an aquarium. Venus has a new roommate, Pumpkin, and they are very fond of each other’s company—often being seen together whenever resting on the bottom. Venus has also finished up their chiropractic sessions with Dr. Mincey as no changes were seen in their posture while healing.
December 9, 2020: You would never guess that this sea turtle had suffered a traumatic injury by how well they are swimming! Venus dives and rests on the bottom of the pool just like the others. This sea turtle continues to be a great eater and very active. Venus has been receiving chiropractic care from Dr. Mincey to ensure their injuries are not affecting the flipper joints or the neck.
November 4, 2020: Venus’s bloodwork came back with an abnormally high white blood cell count, which hinted at either infection or inflammation. The obvious places for infection or inflammation are the wounds on this turtle’s front flippers. Punch biopsies were taken from both front flippers for fungal and bacterial presence as well as a repeat blood culture to rule out any other possibilities. Results came back negative for anything of concern. Another set of bloodwork was performed a week later and Venus’s results were back to normal. We don’t know what caused the spike and if these white blood cell numbers continue to decline, we will not intervene. Even during this episode, Venus was their normal, active self. After the biopsies, they remained buoyant in their pool for a few days, but was eventually able to start diving again. We believe Venus remained buoyant due to some of their limited mobility. Sea turtles can intake a lot of air while out of water for procedures and if they don’t have the physical ability to properly position themselves to exhale the extra air, they can remain buoyant. Once Venus positioned themselves to exhale out the extra air, nothing was going to stop this turtle from diving! Venus was even able to forage their greens off the bottom of the pool with ease, a first in their rehabilitation journey.
October 16, 2020: This little turtle has improved remarkably. Although Venus has more stability in their front flippers, they still have some mobility issues. This turtle still does not have full range of motion in their front flippers and cannot fully adduct them due to the muscle damage done by the fishing line. Even with these limitations, Venus is able to get down to the bottom of the pool and do normal turtle-y things. After Ceres and Shooting Star were released, Venus took over their 12-foot pool and has been enjoying the space. We see them swimming into the inflow current, which is great physical therapy. We have also reached out to Dr. Lindsay Elam, who is boarded in veterinary sports medicine and rehabilitation. With her help, we came up with a couple of ideas to hopefully help Venus achieve a greater range of motion in their flippers. This turtle’s favorite toy is a floating PVC rectangle that has dangling pieces; they are often seen pushing it around the pool and resting in it.
September 21, 2020: Although this turtle is healing from traumatic injuries, Venus is curious and upbeat. They scoot around the surface of their tank using their rear flippers and are eating very well. We have been noticing that Venus is having an easier time getting to the bottom of their pool when they are calm. We believe the excitement of having people around their tank or being fed causes this turtle to breathe more, which creates a larger intake of air, making it harder to exhale due to the limited use of their front flippers.
August 31, 2020: Venus continues to heal from their fishing line injuries. Unfortunately, we are seeing a lot of absorption of the fractured humoral bones, leaving this turtle with little-to-no stability in their front flippers for swimming.
August 17, 2020: Recent radiographs show that the condition of this turtle’s humoral bones has unfortunately worsened. With that being said, the flippers themselves appear to still be in good condition, showing no sign of infection or necrosis. We are continuing with antibiotics and laser therapy to assist in Venus’s healing process. This turtle is still very active, eating all their food and passing lots of fecal. Because Venus is young and has only been with us a few weeks, only time will tell how this turtle’s flippers will heal. We are looking forward to seeing how they progress over the next few weeks with us. Venus enjoys the crunchy lettuce stems we take out of Star’s food!
Have you found a sea turtle that needs help? Visit this page or call the Sea Turtle Preservation Society at 321-206-0646.