Oscar, a Green sea turtle, was found off of Boca Chica near Key West by a diver in early October. The diver noticed something was wrong with this turtle when he spotted her hanging out under a ledge. This turtle had Fibropapilloma tumors growing on her soft tissue, including her eyes and the diver knew he had to do something about it! He called The Turtle Hospital which gave him the proper instructions on how to rescue the sea turtle and then met Turtle Hospital staff in a safe place to put the turtle into their care. Fibropapillomatosis, which mainly affects juvenile Green sea turtles, is a virus which causes tumor-like growths. Although the tumors are completely benign, they are often debilitating leaving the affected sea turtle blind or weakened. There is no cure for the virus, however the external tumors can be surgically removed and typically do not regrow.
Oscar underwent a surgical procedure, an endoscopy, to ensure that tumors were not growing internally. Once no internal tumors were found, one huge tumor that completely covered the turtle’s left eye was removed. Unfortunately once a tumor covers the turtle’s eye there is no way to save the eyesight or the eye of that turtle. Oscar’s left eye was surgically removed by Turtle Hospital vet Dr. Doug Mader. Oscar also had smaller tumors removed from the right eyelid and vision in that right eye will be fine allowing the turtle to return to the wild once the remaining tumors and proper recovery time is received. A second procedure will be necessary to remove the remaining growths along the shoulder and underside of the turtle.
UPDATE November 13th 2010:
Thanks to Dr. Jackie (Marathon Veterinary Hospital) Oscar is now tumor free! All Fibropapilloma patients remain at The Turtle Hospital for an entire year to ensure the tumors do not regrow. Aprox. 20% of the turtles will have regrowths. As long as Oscar remains tumor free she will be released in November 2011.
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