A CT Scan For What??? Seattle Aquarium Sea Turtle Shows Her Stuff!

Recently, we assisted the Seattle Aquarium with one tough cookie of a patient. Not because she was difficult, but because she lives in a shell. Coral, an endangered olive ridley sea turtle was found “cold-stunned” and near death on the Oregon coast in October. Sea turtles will occasionally swim off course into cold water, or become casualties of changing water temperatures in the fall, causing hypothermia and hindering their ability to swim and feed normally. This can leave them vulnerable to swift moving currents which can take them miles off course. Prolonged exposure to the cold can cause pneumonia, shock and even death. In the last 10 years, 49 sea turtles were found stranded on Washington and Oregon coastlines, but the numbers can reach in the thousands on the East Coast.

The West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network , coordinated by NOAA Fisheries brought Coral to the Seattle Aquarium where she received intensive care, including gradual warming, antibiotics and other medications to combat the damage sustained to her skin, shell and lungs. After about a three month period, Dr. Caitlin Hadfield, the aquarium’s veterinarian, felt that a Computerized Tomography, or CT scan, was required in order to assess the extent of her healing process. As soon as she was strong enough, Dr. Hadfield and staff brought her to our clinic for the scan, and in exchange, we were treated with one of our most interesting patients to date!

Trusted in the community as a leader in veterinary surgery since 1986, ASCS has assisted the Seattle Aquarium and The Woodland Park Zoo with their vast array of animals and mammals over the decades. In addition to surgery, ASCS provides expertise with a variety of diagnostics and physical therapeutic modalities as well. We utilize our Board-Certified Surgeons, doctors and staff to extend our hand to the Woodland Park Zoo and the Aquarium whenever needed.

In Coral’s case, the CT provided some great information. With the help of veterinary radiologist, Dr. Steve Pokorny, they were able to determine that her shell and her vital organs had healed well and she was ready to be transported to Sea World, San Diego where she is undergoing further rehabilitation.

Coral is now swimming in waters that are similar to those where she will eventually be released.

If you find a sea turtle on shore please report it immediately to the West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network at 1-866-767-6114. The hotline is monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and the Network will respond as quickly as possible.

For more information on what to do if you find a sea turtle on a beach, click here.

We want to extend our appreciation to Sea World and our Local Seattle Aquarium for providing excellent care of Coral, and terrific photos for us to share as well!

Posted March 22, 2018 by Animal Surgical in Noteworthy with No Comments and tagged as , , ,

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