The Turtle Hospital. Rescue, Rehab, Release.

OMG Leatherback!

Saturday 12/5 we got in a very rare turtle, a leatherback. And not just any leatherback, a juvenile leatherback!

juvenile leatherback

Victor, as the rescuers wanted to name him for Victory after his struggles and finding help, is about 6 months old and weighs in at a whopping 1.4 lbs. He has a previous injury to his left front flipper, most likely predator related, leaving only half of a flipper. He was found floating next to the dock in North Key Largo, which is not close to where he should be found (which is far offshore).

Upon arrival we examined him, took x-rays, and blood work. During this, we realized he is slightly underweight and anemic. We will be feeding him a special diet to get his weight up and giving him meds to fix his anemia.

vet examining turtle

Our goal is to get him released as quickly as possible, as leatherbacks do not do well in captivity. Because they live so far offshore, they have no concept of barriers or walls. We have created a tether to prevent him from running into the sides of his tank. It’s attached to the tank with PVC pipe and then a swivel with fishing line. It’s connected to his shell with tissue glue.

turtle on a tether

Because leatherbacks have very specialized diets, we’re feeding him a special mixture of gelatin, Mahi, baby cereal, french bread, and vitamins. Luckily he started eating this morning, so we should be able to get his weight up soon. Our goal is to get him released as quickly as possible, hopefully within a week.

side view of turtle

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