The Turtle Hospital. Rescue, Rehab, Release.

“Good Hope” the Sea Turtle Dies

Prior to her death, Good Hope saw veterinarian opthamologist Lorraine Karpinksi. Pine Crest Veterinary Services donated the appointment to the turtle.

The Turtle Hospital is sad to report the passing away of our sea turtle patient, “Good Hope,” a pregnant hawksbill airlifted for treatment from St. Croix exactly one month ago.

Good Hope’s passing came as a surprise to hospital staff.  She was scheduled for surgery by Dr. Mader this morning, a procedure that would have attempted to repair her swollen and torn eyelids.  Weekly improvements since her arrival in critical condition on September 1 suggested the odds were looking up for this patient.  However, we continued to note the severity of her overall condition, including the abnormal egg-laying behavior.

Viable eggs saved from the deceased mother are placed in incubators inside a temperature-controlled room. It will take 2 months before any potential hatchlings emerge.

A necropsy revealed a heavy amount of sand inside the turtle’s lungs.  While Good Hope seemed to be responding to antibiotics and physical therapy, there would have been no way to remove the sand.  Likely, the sediment accumulated while the turtle struggled to go ashore around the time of Tropical Storm Isaac, preventing her from successfully nesting.  Enlarged lungs also indicated she had not yet recovered from a bout of pneumonia.  Additionally, the eyes were deemed unsalvageable meaning, as a blind sea turtle, Good Hope would not have been able to survive in the wild.

Turtle Hospital manager Bette Zirkelbach and Sue Schaf of FWC begin to carefully place the harvested eggs in their makeshift nest for the next two months.

Prior to this morning’s necropsy, the remainder of Good Hope’s eggs were harvested.  Having laid 61 viable eggs, 58 were removed from the mother for incubation.  That brings our total number of incubating eggs to 119.  The fertility of the eggs is unknown at this point, but, once again, we remain hopeful and optimistic here at The Turtle Hospital.  In 2 months, we may be airlifting a generation of baby Good Hopes back to Good Hope Beach in St. Croix.  Only time will tell.

A total of 58 eggs were removed from Good Hope. Daily, we will continue to monitor the incubating temperatures as well as moisture levels of the St. Croix sand in which these eggs are packed.

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