Receiving a call to rescue a turtle with a tumor is nothing new for us but every once in a while what appears to be a normal rescue call turns into something quite abnormal. Chomper, named because she tries to bite anything that gets close to her, was reported to us on September 17th. She was found entangled in fishing line and the family that reported her also mentioned a large growth on her flipper. Unfortunately calls about turtles with tumors are nothing new for us, even “large” tumors are becoming more common. Until we met Chomper the largest single tumor ever removed from a turtle at our facility weighed a little over 3lbs. Never could we have imagined she had a single tumor larger than a basketball! Not only was the enormous size of this tumor a surprise but also the fact that it was on a loggerhead sea turtle. Green sea turtles are commonly seen with tumors. It is believed to be due to their diet of sea grass and algae that has become loaded with toxins from pollutants. Although fibropapilloma has been observed in all the species, tumors on loggerheads are much more rare, let alone a giant tumor weighing over 14lbs.
Luckily for Chomper she was able to be successfully rescued and scheduled for tumor removal surgery right away. After surgery she also required a blood transfusion due the amount of blood lost while removing such a large tumor. Dr. Terry removed the tumor with out needing to amputate the flipper but we knew Chomper had a lot of damage to the flipper and may need to have it amputated in the future. Our team made every effort to restore blood flow in the compromised flipper including oxygen therapy, class 4 laser treatment, twice daily massages with DMSO and honey and medicinal leeches. Despite our best efforts the flipper could not be saved and was amputated.
Chomper will be able to survive in the wild with only three flippers but has a long recovery ahead of her. She still has another tumor that needs to be removed at a later date. She will remain with us for several months after that to help ensure she can develop a resistance against this debilitating and deadly virus and learn to swim with three flippers before release.
If you would like to donate to help Chomper’s recovery you can do so through our online store or our Amazon wish list. We would also love for you to support our facility with your Amazon purchases through the Amazon Smile program or other fundraising platforms like Facebook. We can be found by searching our legal name:Hidden Harbor Marine Environmental Project EIN: 65-0306516
If you would like to learn more about fibropapilloma we have included this link to a previous newsletter article.
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