This sub-adult loggerhead sea turtle is estimated to be about 20 years old. The turtle was picked up in Ocean City, New Jersey, on June 27, 2019, where she was found struggling at the surface. She was positively buoyant (floating), preventing her from diving, and was covered with barnacles, which is a sign that she has been ill for a lengthy amount of time. The turtle was transported to Sea Turtle Recovery, located inside the Turtle Back Zoo, for hospitalization, where the staff immediately began working to stabilize the turtle and diagnose the cause of her illness.
Sea Turtle Recovery, STR, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the rehabilitation of sea turtles and educating the public on the important ecological role of sea turtles, threats endangering them and ways to protect their future. Sea Turtle Recovery, an independent nonprofit located inside Essex County Turtle Back Zoo, is the only facility in the state able to rehabilitate sea turtles needing long-term care.
Sea Turtle Recovery is administering several medications to this threatened loggerhead, but test results thus far have been inconclusive. Mount Laurel Animal Hospital has generously offered its assistance with advanced imaging diagnostics. The veterinary hospital is performing a computerized tomography (CT) scan on this massive turtle to help Sea Turtle Recovery’s veterinarians in diagnosing the turtle’s ailments. The CT scan will hopefully pinpoint the cause of the buoyancy abnormality and guide additional treatment protocols for the rehabilitation process.
“We are excited to provide advanced diagnostic options to all animals including endangered species like sea turtles, which has allowed us to make the same strides in exotic animal medicine as we have available to cats and dogs,” says Dr. Christopher Torre, owner and veterinarian of Mount Laurel Animal Hospital. “We are honored to play a role in this animal’s health care, potentially having the ability to extend the life of this species,” says Torre.
“Sea turtles are an important part of our marine and coastal ecosystems; we need to protect them,” commented Sea Turtle Recovery’s Co-Executive Officer Bill Deerr. Loggerhead sea turtles are listed as threatened in the Northwest Atlantic and are endangered worldwide. This species has an average life span of 60-80 years and can grow to over 350lbs. Loggerhead sea turtles reach maturity at approximately age 25 when they will begin mating and nesting.
“This turtle is almost an adult, so it is extremely important to do everything we can to get her back to the ocean. She has the potential to greatly impact her species' survival,” added Deerr.
For anyone who encounters a sick, injured or deceased sea turtle, please report it to the U.S. Coast Guard or local police immediately, or contact the NOAA Fisheries 24-hour hotline at 1-866-755-6622. They will contact the appropriate organizations to help the animal.
Sea Turtle Recovery relies on donations and grants to care for threatened and endangered sea turtle patients. More about the nonprofit Sea Turtle Recovery, their efforts and how to donate to the sea turtles’ care can be found by visiting www.seaturtlerecovery.org
More information about visiting Sea Turtle Recovery inside the Turtle Back Zoo is available at turtlebackzoo.com
Information about Mount Laurel Animal Hospital and their veterinary services is available at https://mlahvet.com
Image: Loggerhead turtle floating at the surface of the rehabilitation pool after being admitted to Sea Turtle Recovery for care.