What a difference a week makes! This endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle was on her last leg, sprawled out on the operating table at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies, life hanging in the balance as this IMMS rescue team raced to locate and identify an embedded fishing hook, ultimately removed after hours of intense and sophisticated surgery under the hands of MSU Veterinarian Dr. John Thomason who drove all the way from Starkville to lend a hand. Veterinarian Dr. Debra Moore said, “It took quite a bit of time. It’s the maneuvering and trying to get the hook that was embedded in the stomach out. We were really pleased and happy. We were almost screaming with excitement to see the hook finally come out.”
IMMS workers have been keeping a close eye on their patient, now known only as turtle number eight. She’s on the move and if appetite is any indication, this young gal is definitely on the mend. IMMS Stranding Coordinator Theresa Madrigal said, “For right now, she’s getting some medications to help with her stomach. She’s also transitioning into a diet now that they eat naturally in their environment. Blue crab is their primary diet here. Everyday she’s going to get some blue crabs until she’s ready to go.”
The Kemp’s Ridley turtle was rescued and is being rehabbed thanks to a quick-thinking and observant fisherman who called the IMMS so the turtle could get help. “He did catch her on his hook and line. These are opportunistic feeders so they are going to go after any kind of meal they can get. Sometimes it’s not avoidable, but the most important thing is to call and let us know so we can go ahead and remove the hook. In this case it could have caused a serious problem if she had gotten free, but we were able to successfully remove that and are able to treat her here.”
This turtle’s survival has far-reaching effects. “Only less than one-percent of the whole nest will survive to adulthood, to lay eggs. Her rehabilitation is critically important to getting her out so she can contribute to the population.”
If you see or catch one of these sea turtles on a hook or line or any injured or dead marine mammal or sea turtles you’re asked to call the IMMS at 1-888-SOS-Dolphin or 1-888-767-3657.