from rocky – 09/18/2006
Sea Turtle Illness
Source WESH TV
An illness that is baffling scientists is afflicting Loggerhead sea turtles along the North and Central Florida coast. –10 have washed up dead along Jacksonville-area beaches and 8 were taken to the Volusia County Marine Science Center, WESH 2 News reported. One of the 8 died on Tuesday night, but 2 are starting to show signs of improvement.
Scientists said it is not red tide that is making them ill, but it is still unclear what is. "To get 8 of these [with] exact same signs, same Loggerhead size in at one time, it’s been pretty incredible," said sea turtle specialist Michelle Bauer. The reptiles are lethargic, not eating and not moving even a flipper. The turtles are very sick, but with what?
"There are problems with the lungs, we are trying to treat that," Bauer said.
"We’re also treating them for parasites, if that might be the problem." Bauer said the sick turtles have washed up in the last 5 days from Daytona Beach north to Georgia. "A normal, healthy Loggerhead wouldn’t just sit here," she said. "They’d be spinning in this tub, trying to bite, be very agitated [by] the fact he’s out of the water."
Bauer said it is possible the turtles inhaled something toxic or bacteria kicked up by Hurricane Florence. She ruled out red tide. "The manatees aren’t getting sick, the birds aren’t sick, there’s no fish kill off. It’s just limited now to the reptiles," Bauer said.
There is hope that the sick turtles will make a full recovery. The 1st one brought in is back in the water. He is far from 100 percent [better], but he is moving around and Bauer said that’s a good sign.
The specialists are waiting for blood tests that may help them figure out what has afflicted the creatures.
Loggerhead (_Caretta caretta_ ) is so named because of its large head. Currently these turtles are considered a threatened species. The loggerhead is the most frequently seen turtle in the Florida region. They are a hard-shelled turtle measuring as large as 38 inches (95 cm) in length of carapace and weighing up to 350 pounds (159 kg). For a photograph and more information please see http://www.arazpa.org.au/Education_FactSheets_Loggerhead.htm
There is not enough information in the article to speculate on the cause of the illness and deaths. When there is a definitive report or diagnosis we would appreciate receiving that information. – Mod.TG
Patricia A. Doyle DVM, PhD
Bus Admin, Tropical Agricultural Economics
Univ of West Indies
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