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Table of Contents
Trauma and response
Appendix A: STTRC data forms
Appendix B: Species identification
Appendix C: Transporting a sick or injured sea turtle
Appendix D: Emergency assistance
Appendix E: Euthanasia in sea turtles
Appendix F: Handling fibropapilloma turtles
Appendix G: Handling and release protocols for hooked or entangled turtles
M M a a r r i i n n e e T T u u r r t t l l e e T T r r a a u u m m a a R R e e s s p p o o n n s s e e P P r r o o c c e e d d u u r r e e s s : : A A F F i i e e l l d d G G u u i i d d e e Michelle G. Pasquin (c) 1998. Bermuda Aquarium Museum & Zoo Prepared by the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST) S hana M. Phelan and Karen L. Eckert WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 200 6
A second printing in 2012 was made possible by financial support f rom : For bibliographic purposes, this doc u ment should be cited as: Phelan, Shana M. and Karen L. Eckert. 2006. Marine Turtle Trauma Response Procedures : A Field Guide. Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST) Technical Report No. 4. Beaufort, North Carolina USA. 71 pp. ISSN: 1930 3025 Copies of this publication may be obtained from: Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST) 1348 Rusticview Drive Ballwin, Missouri 63011 Phone: + (314) 954 8571 Email: keckert@ widecast.org Online at www.widecast.org
M M a a r r i i n n e e T T u u r r t t l l e e T T r r a a u u m m a a R R e e s s p p o o n n s s e e P P r r o o c c e e d d u u r r e e s s : : A A F F i i e e l l d d G G u u i i d d e e Shana M. Phelan Project Officer WIDECAST Karen L. Eckert Executive Director WIDECAST 200 6
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 1 Foreward More than 15 years ago I became involved in green turtle fibropapilloma research in collaboration with George Balazs, and he and I had profound and detailed discussions about welfare and humane tech niques in handling pain in sea turtles. After a long day of necropsies, we w ould green turtle severely affected with tumors with a barbiturate or T 61, now out of the veterinary market. Sometimes we use d techniques described in old reptile books techniques now deemed inhumane including decapitation, freezing or exsanguination. We w ould wait many hours for the animal to die, as it would emit a response of being alive with a pumping heart. After many years of experience we realized that sea turtles are extremely tolerant to p ain, a harsh environment and lasting trauma. Since 1998 I have worked with Wildlife Trust on a d iversity of species and in all instances we have had to deal with animal stress and pain. I have been fortunate to be one of the founders of a new discipline Conservation Medicine 1 which is an attempt to define the links between human and animal health with ecosystem health and global environmental change. Conservation Medicine s imply stated, is the science and practice of ecological health I t is especiall modified landscapes, where habitat destruction and degradation and episodes of emerging human and wildlife diseases are increasing. The hope is that once armed with the appropriate knowledge, policy makers and scientists will pr oactively devise and implement epidemiological strategies to better ensure ecological health. This novel approach in the protection of biological diversity ha s challenged scientists and practitioners in the health, natural and social sciences to think abo ut new, collaborative ways to address ecological health concerns from the molecular to the global level. At the individual level stress and welfare are important areas we have considered. P helan and Eckert, with the support of dozens of experts in the field including wildlife biologists, vet erinar ians and rehabilitators have made a unique and significant contribution to the emerging field of Conservation Medicine in develop ing a much needed practical guide to describe sea turtle illnesses and injurie s, and to address the nature of sea turtle mortalities Th e guide f ills an important gap in providing a comprehensive and readable prescription for diagnosing trauma, alleviating pain, and responding to emergency situations Fundamental background, refere nce photos of normal anatomy, and diagrams to guide novice or professional biologists, stranding personnel, and veterinarians are provided for a range of circumstances ranging from buoyancy to entanglement to parasites. Clear and up to date information on resuscitation procedures, euthanasia, and carcass disposal provide even the least experienced turtle biologist with the tools to address these unexpected events. There are no simple solutions to address global environmental problems ; a multi pronged str ategy is required. I am confident this new book will enhance the care and professional treatment given to sick and injured sea turtles in the Caribbean Sea and beyond and for this I not only commend the efforts but sincerely ho pe that the initiative will inspire other such field guides designed for other imperiled taxa A. Alonso Aguirre Vice President for Conservation Medicine Wildlife Trust 19 October 2006 1 Aguirre, A.A., R.S. Ostfeld, G.M. Tabor, C.A. House and M.C. Pearl (Editors). 2002. Conservation Medicine: Ecological Health in Practice. Oxford University Press, New York. 407pp.
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 2 Preface and Intent For more than two decades the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST), with Country Coordinators in more than 40 Caribbean States and territories, has linked scientists, conservationists, resource managers, resource users, policy makers, industry groups, educators and other stakeho lders together in a collective effort to develop a unified management framework, and to promote a regional capacity to design and implement scientifically sound sea turtle management programs. As a Partner Organization of the UNEP Caribbean Environment Pr ogramme and its Regional Pro gramme for Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) WIDECAST i s designed to address research and management priorities at national and regional levels, both for sea turtles and for the habitats upon which they depend. We focus on bringing the best available science to bear on con temporary management and conservation issues, empowering stakeholders to make effective use of that science in the policy making process, and providing a n operational mechanism and a framework fo r cooperation at all levels, both within and among nations. Network participants throughout the region are committed to working collaboratively to develop their collective capacity to manage shared sea turtle resources. By bringing people together, and by en couraging inclusive management planning, WIDECAST is helping to ensure that utili z ation practices, whether consumptive or non consumptive, do not undermine sea turtle survival over the long term. Among these capacity building initiatives is WIDECAS T Turtle Trauma Response Corps (S TTR C ). The aim of the S TTR C is to strengthen and coordinate the efforts of people through out the Wider Caribbean Region to respond to sea turtles in crisis, whether at sea or stranded along the shoreline. Based on recommendations of the 2004 Annual General Meeting of WIDECAST ( held in San Jos, Costa Rica), the initiative will include the development of a variety of standard guidelines and field procedures manuals for S TTR C members, as well as standardized reporting forms and database management software In addition to peer reviewed guidelines, Internet based resources, information management software and other technical products, the STTRC will feature regular training and internship opportunities for field staff and volunteers, natural resource managers, veterinarians, and animal rescue practitioners. The STTRC will encourage and enable collaboration among range S tates with regard to sea turtle injury response, rehabilitation and release, and to this end has also established standardized hus ban dry guidelines for rescue and rehabilitation facilities, as well as guidelines to assist veterinarians in their role as caregivers of sick and injured sea turtles. This Field Guide i s designed to complement S TTRC training workshops and to provide guidance and support to first response efforts. V is it http://www.widecast.org/What/Regional/Medicine.html for more information, including how to bec ome involved in your area. Karen L. Eckert Executive Director WIDECAST
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 3 Acknowledgements The authors are deeply grateful to a great number of friends, colleagues and experts in many countries who contributed substantively to the development of this field guide. In particular, we acknowledge the willing support and important expertise of the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST), the Marinelife Center of Juno Beach (Florida), the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) and the Nicholas School of Environment and Earth Sciences at Duke University where a a Master Shana fondly acknowledges the personal support of Dean Sh uler, Karen Phelan, Ashlee Adams and Maria Dunlap; and Daniel Dunn and Kelly Stewart, great friends and colleagues at Duke University. The contributions of Nancy Mettee DVM (Veterinarian for Marinelife Center of Juno Beach, Florida) and Craig Harms DV M PhD (Veterinarian for the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hospital North Carolina, and Assistant Professor of Aquatic, Zoo and Wildlife Medicine at NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine) were especially helpful during the early development and final editing of th is field guide I n addition, t he authors are deeply indebted to the following individuals for their willingness to review and strengthen earlier drafts: F. Alberto Abreu Grobois, PhD (Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnologia, UNAM Mazatl n M xico ), Alonso Aguirre, DVM PhD (Vice President for Conservation Medicine, Wildlife Trust), G eorge Balazs ( Leader, Marine Turtle Research, NOAA N ational Marine Fisheries Service Hawai i) Jean Beasley (Director, Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hospital), Flegra Bentive gna DVM (Director, Naples Aquarium and Marine Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Centres, Italy), Janice Blumenthal ( Research Officer, Dep artment of Environment, Cayman Islands), Meghan Conti ( Environmental Specialist II, FFWCC ), Mark Dodd ( Sea Turtle Progr am Coordinator, Georgia Dep artment of Natural Resources), Scott Eckert PhD (Director of Science, WIDECAST at Duke University), Allen Foley PhD ( Wildlife Biologist, FFWCC), Sandy Fournies (Rehabilitation Assistant, Marinelife Center of Juno Beach), Robert George, DVM ( Head Veterinarian, Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center ), Julia Horrocks PhD ( Director, Barbados Sea Turtle Project Univ ersity of the West Indies), Charles Innis, VM D (Assoc iate Veterinarian, New England Aquarium), Elliott Jacobson, DVM, PhD (University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine), Douglas R. Mader, DVM (Consulting Veterinarian, Key West Aquarium and Marathon Sea Turtle Hospital), Charles Manire, DVM ( Chief Veterinarian, Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium ), Richie More tti ( Director, Marathon Sea Turtle Hospital), Ana Cecilia Negrete DVM (Responsable de Operacin Medicina, Depto. Tortugas Marinas, Parque Xcaret Mxico ), Terry Norton DVM (Wildlife Veterinarian, St. Catherines Island Center), Maria Parga DVM (Veterinar ian, Rescue Centre for Marine Animals : CRAM Spain), Al Segars, DVM (South Carolina Department of Natural Resources), Lory Scott (Curator, Virginia Living Museum), Sue Shaf ( Rehabilitation Specialist, Marathon Sea Turtle Hospital), Donna Shaver PhD ( Chief Div ision of Sea Turtle Science and Recovery, Padre Island National Seashore ), Andrew Stamper DVM ( Research Biologist/ Clinical Veterinarian, Animal Programs ), Raymond Tarpley, DVM PhD ( Director, MARVET), Tony Tucker PhD ( Director, Sea Turtle Research Program, Mote Marine Lab or atory and Aquarium ), Richard van der Wal MD ( Field Coordinator Turtugaruba Foundation, Aruba), Michael Walsh, DVM (Director of Veterinary Services, Sea World of Florida), Scott Weber, VM D (Head Veterinarian, New Engla nd Aquarium), and Jean Weiner ( Director, FoProBiM, Haiti) M any photos in this field guide were provided from the archives of the authors; however, several individuals and organizations provided additional images that greatly enhanced the quality o f the p ublication. These include: G. Balazs ( N MFS ), R. Byrne ( marinecreatures.com ), A. Caballero (Sint Maarten Nature Foundation ), Centro Ecolgico Akumal (M xico), CREMA (Spain), J. DeSalvo
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 4 (Trinidad and Tobago), T. Dickinson (USA), S. Eckert ( WIDECAST/ Duke University ), J. Gray ( Con servation Services, Bermuda), C. Harms ( K aren Beasley Sea Turtle Hospital / NC State University ), J. Horrocks ( BSTP/ Univ ersity of the West Indies Barbados), G. Jones (USA), S. Kubis ( NMFS C. McClellan (Duke Univer sity), A. Meylan (F FWCC ), Parque Xcaret (Mxico), R. van der Wal ( Turtugaruba Foundation ), J. Wyneken ( Florida Atlantic University ), the Marinelife Center of Juno Beach (Florida) and t he Marathon Sea Turtle Hospital ( Marathon Key Florida) A s pecial th ank you is extended to artist Michelle Pasquin (Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo) for her generosity in granting permission to use the original cover illustration. Finally, the field guide could not have been researched developed, printed and distributed to an inter national audience nor could international training workshops have been convened to encourage its use, without funding from the Western Hemisphere Migratory Species Initiative (Division of Interna tional Conservation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Se rvice), Panaphil Foundation, CGMK Foundation Disney Animal Program s and the Phelan Family Foundation ported by the Mary Derrickson McCurdy Visiting Scholar Fellowship at Duke University. Our sincere gratitude to all!
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 5 TABLE OF CONTENTS Foreward 1 Preface and Intent 2 Acknowledgements 3 Table of Contents 5 I. Overview 7 Caribbean Sea Turtles 7 WIDECAST Sea Turtle Trauma Response Corps (STTRC) 8 Purpose of th is Field Guide 9 Want to K now More? 10 II. Getting Started 1 2 Contact the Authorities 1 2 Emphasize Human Health and Safety 1 2 Keep Accurate Records 1 3 Make an Initial Assessment 1 3 Sea Turtle Anatomy Guide 1 5 III. Trauma and Response 1 6 Overview 1 6 Preparing a Sea Turtle Field Kit 1 7 Cleansing a Wound 1 8 Boat Strikes 1 9 Buoyancy Problems 20 Deformities and Amputees 2 1 Emaciation 2 2 Entanglement 2 3 Fibropapillomatosis 2 4 Fishing Hooks 2 5 Hunting including Spearfishing Injuries 2 6 Mating Wounds 2 7 Oil Contamination 2 8 Parasites and E pi biota 2 9 Predat or Attacks ( Shark Dog) 30 Trash and Debris Ingestion 31 Special Consideration s : Hatchlings 3 2 IV. Resuscitation Procedures 3 3 V. Necropsy 3 4 VI. Carcass Disposal 3 6 Literature Cited 3 7 Appendix A randing Data Forms 41 Appendix B Species Identification Guide 4 8 Appendix C Transporting a Sick or Injured Sea Turtle 5 5 Appendix D Emergency Contact List 5 6 Appendix E Euthanasia in S ea Turtles 5 8 Appendix F Handling Fibropapilloma Turtles 6 3 Appendix G Handling and Release Protocols for Hooked or Entangled Turtles 6 6
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 6 Have you ever wanted to Help? Photo: T. Dellinger Photo: P. Miller Photo: R. P itman Photo: J. M. Alonso Photo: The Turtle Hospital
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 7 I. Overview Caribbean Sea Turtles Sea turtles are gentle, ancient reptiles that are adapted to life in the ocean. There are seven s pecies of sea turtle s; six of them live in the Wider Caribbean Region These are, from largest to smallest, the l eatherback ( Dermochelys coriacea ), g reen ( Chelonia mydas ), l oggerhead ( Caretta caretta ), h awksbill ( Eretmochelys imbricata ), o live r idley ( Lep idochelys olivacea r idley ( Lepidochelys kempii ). Sea turtles range in weight from about 40 kg (adult r idley turtles) to nearly 1,000 kg in the case of an adult male l eatherback turtle Most inhabit tropical or subtropical waters. T he l eathe rback has the widest distribution with foraging grounds and migratory corridors that includ e subarctic wa ters. No one knows for certain how long sea turtles live, but field studies demonstrate that they generally require 15 40 years or more depending o n the species, to reach adulthood. Sea turtles, like all rep tiles, have lungs and must come to the surface regularly to breathe air. With few exceptions, t he only time a sea turtle leaves the ocean is to lay eggs. During breeding years, adult sea turtl es depart from their feeding grounds and migrate hundreds or thousand s of kilomete r s to mating grounds and nesting beaches. An adult female may nest for two decades or more under natural circumstances. Eighty to 200 or more eggs are generally laid in e ach nest. Females typically deposit 2 6 clutches of eggs per year (but as many as 12!) and return to nest at 2 5 year intervals. Sea turtles may produce several thousand eggs in a lifetime, but not all of the se will hatch : s ome will be infertile, some w ill be lost to erosion or eaten by predators, and others will be collected for human consumption, often illegally. Hatchlings are eaten in large numbers by predators ; young juveniles, too, face many oceanic dangers (predators, pollution, fishing nets) F ewer than one egg in 1 000 will produce an adult turtle. During non breeding seasons, adult l eatherback turtles travel extensively on the high seas in search of jellyfish and related prey. Loggerheads and r idleys are omnivores, consuming mollusks, crabs, jellyfish and other invertebrates; fishes (typically dead as fisheries bycatch) and seaweeds are also eaten. The g reen turtle is an herbivore, preferring to graze in seagrass meadows in tropical coastal waters. Hawksbills specialize on coral reef sponge s and other invertebrates Because most sea turtles will eat jellyfish, plastic bags pose a widespread and serious threat and can be fatal if i ngested. In general, sea turtle populations throughout the world are severely reduced from historical levels. According to the World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Animals persistent over exploitation, especially of adult females on nesting beaches, and the widespread collection of eggs are largely responsible for the "Vulnerable", Caribbean species. Some of the largest breeding colonies the world has ever known have all but van ished includ ing s ome in the Caribbean Sea. In addition to a broadly regulated but largely unmanaged harvest t hat has spanned centuries, sea tur tles are accidentally captured in active or abandoned fishing gear, resulting in death to tens (if not hundreds) of t housands of turtles each year. Coral reef and seagrass degradation, chemical pollution and marine debri s, high density coastal development, and an increase in ocean based tourism are among the many factors that have damaged or eliminated important nesting beaches and feeding areas throughout the Caribbean Sea International trade in t urtle products has als o contributed to the demise of some species.
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 8 T declines often result from a combination of factors, both domestic and foreign. Because sea turtles are migrato ry throughout their long lives, what appears as a localized decline may be a direct con sequence of the activities of peoples many hundreds or thousands of kilometers away. Therefore it is very important that management and conservation, as well as rescue and reporting efforts be coordinated on a regional scale. The Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network ( WIDECAST ), with Country Coordinators in more than 40 States and territories, is uniquely designed to address national and regional research, co nservation, and management priorities, both for sea turtles and for the variety of habitats upon which they depend. One such priority is to reduce the negative consequences of human interactions with sea turtles, as well as to facilitate the rescue and re habilitation of injured and traumatized turtles WIDECAST Sea Turtle Trauma Response Corps (STTRC) Delegates from more than 30 Caribbean States and territories unanimously agreed at the 2004 Sea Turtle Trauma Re sponse Corps S TTR C ) be created to strengthen and coordinate the efforts of people throughout the Wider Caribbean Region to respond to sea turtles in crisis, whether at sea or stranded on the shoreline The Meeting envisioned that the S TTR C would embrace interested sea turtle project staff and volunteers; veterinarians; zoos, s taff ; divers, fishermen and coastal residents; and park and natural resource managers. Specifically, the Meeting recommended the following : St ructure Each WIDECAST Country Coordinator will identify a National STTRC Coordinator to organize and maintain a national Trauma Response Network (TRN), and to link members of the TRN with the resources of the regional STTRC. Each National STTRC Coordinato r will i dentify local experts and relevant facilities, equipment and resources to contribute to the national TRN Each National STTRC Coordinator will identify a mechanism (such as an e newsletter or listserv) to keep TRN members informed of current even ts, updated information and resources, training, etc. Each National STTRC Coordinator will i dentify a sponsor for a 24 hour national ( e.g. phone/fax, email, website) to facilitate emergency assistance and to invite citizen reports. Ea ch National STTRC Coordinator will i dentify a Lead Organization to whom stranding events and information will be reported, and the information archived, in each country. Each National STTRC Coordinator will ensure that the TRN operates in full compliance w ith national permit requirements relative to conducting necropsies, collecting and storing tissue samples, holding sea turtles captive for the purposes of rehabilitation, etc. WIDECAST will serve as a national and regional clearinghouse for d ata collected from stranding events and related incidents with the intent of using such d ata to assess national and regional trends in mortality and to inform management WIDECAST will mainta in http:// www.widecast.org/What/Regional/Medicine.html to fea ture photos of common injuries ; a region wide roster of expert s ; National STTRC Coordinators and Lead Organizations; field procedure manuals and veterinary guide s;
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 9 data forms and reporting protocols; reh abilitation cent er s located in the Caribbean re gion ; training opportunities and internships; and other relevant contacts and resources Training WIDECAST, in partnership with experts, will p rovide professional training to STTRC members, including w orksh ops /seminars on s tranding response procedures, standard ized data collection and analysis, necropsy techniques, animal transport guidelines s ample/tissue collection and storage and maintenance of portable trauma response field kits Workshop graduates wi ll receive a certificate or plaque that identifies them as a mem ber of the S TTR C WIDECAST will create partnerships with existing sea turtle hospitals and rescue cen ters in the Wider Caribbean Region to facilitate regular internships and mentoring opport unities, as well as liaisons with veterinarians to ensure that all STTRC materials reflect current veterinary standards and best practices. WIDECAST will develop (or endorse existing) communication tools, such as listservs, websites, professional task forc es/working groups and/or newsletters, to facilitate infor mation exchange between local veterinarians and more experienced ; these venues could also be used to share experiences associated with s tranding and trauma events, first response, rehabilitation and release, etc. Best Practices WIDECAST will prepare and distribute standard reporting forms and database man agement software In partnership with experts, WIDECAST will develop (or endorse existing) the following essential materials: A field guide or manual to assist with first response including photos and illus trations of common injuries (e.g. boat strikes, predator attacks entanglement, h ook ingestion encounters with poach ers oil ing harpoon injuries, fibropapilloma tosis par asite infestation) and a description of how to help on the scene (e.g. basic pro cedures for resuscitation, hook removal, transporting animals, euthanasia ) includ ing what not to do A best practices manual for facility based rescue and rehabilitation, i ncluding physi cal plant, basic husbandry and veterinary procedures, health and recovery moni toring, screening and release protocols etc. A necropsy manual t hat emphasizes proper technique (including human health and safety), explains what can be learned (e.g. health status, reproductive condition, cause of death ), and provides guidelines for tissue sample collection, analysis, inventory and storage Purpose of th is Field Guide The purpose of this field guide is to establish basic guidelines and proc edures for i ndividuals who respond to sea turtle trauma and stranding event s. Designed as a first response tool i t includes data forms (Appendix A), a species identification guide (Appendix B), and photos and description s written in lay person o f option s and procedures for treatment of trauma related strandings and injuries
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 10 at the point of contact. It is the first such resource in the Wider Caribbean Region, and is intended to meet the needs of the STTRC It is important to note that, even wi th this field guide in hand, t here will be t imes when, lacking a formalized rescue/rehabilitation center and/or a willing veterinarian or other clinical expert, the recom mendation will be to release the injured or debilitated sea turtle back to the sea. There is a chance that the animal will not survive. But neither is survival inevitable in a captive setting that has not been designed for this purpose and cannot offer clean seawater, proper food and trained care. Sea turtles can sustain remarkable i njuries and return, seemingly undiminished to their daily routine Anyone who has spent any appreciable time with sea turtles in the wild has seen adults nesting with tattered or missing flippers large chunks torn from their shells and so on W hile th e chance of a predator attack or other mishap is likely to increase during periods of natural healing, experience tell s us that sea turtles can and do enjoy physical rehabilitation and recovery if left alone. That said, w e are not unaware of the emoti onal difficulty (on the part of the rescuers) of releasing an injured animal back to the wild, even after all that can be done has been done. The instinct will be to want to keep the animal, monitor its progress, and release it only when the re is assuranc e of its re covery and survival. But in the absence of any reasonable ability to care for the animal, a rescuer will at some point, be faced with the decision to release an animal to its fate W e encourage you to use such experience s as impetus to ral ly support for the creation of a short term care facili t y. It need not be a complex veterinary facility but simply a suitable location near the sea (perhaps a public aquarium, a n animal quarantine station, or a fisheries facility) with the capacity to ma intain running saltwater tanks of suitable size provide adequate shelter and diet, ensure clean and healthy surroundings, and guarantee a dedicated staff of care givers and security personnel ld, and we look forward to your feedback on how to improve the usefulness of this manual by providing more detailed ( or different) information or more clarity regarding the subjects covered. Soon, comprehensive guidelines specifically designed for veteri narians will also be available at http://www.widecast.org/What/Regional/Medicine.html Want to Know More? While this g uide is designed to provide first responders with the information ne ed ed to respond effectively to a sick or injured sea turtle the triage, transport and treatment of injured wildlife are difficult and oftentimes risky undertaking s It i s useful to have as much information at your disposal as possible. In developing this f ield g uide the authors have drawn heavily from the cumulative expertise of published literature, personal interviews with veterinarians and other professionals and peer review by Caribbean sea turtle experts In addition, many documents are freely avai lable on the Internet (see boxed insert). W e encourage you to become familiar with them to include t hem in your permanent reference library and to share them with partners and colleagues Complete b ibliographic references for these and other cited mate rial are provide d in the Literature Cited section of this field guide Finally, comprehensive t raining is available through MARVET ( http://www.marvet.org/ ), which offers veterinary students and veterinarians a "hands on wet lab" and lecture workshop with a primary focus on the biology, clinical care and rehabilitation of sea turtles. M ARVET also provides an introductory course in marine mammal medicine including health related conservation issues Another excellent training and networking opportunity is provided a t The Turtle Hospi tal ( http://www.turtlehospital.org/ ), which hosts an annual workshop for veterinarians and sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation experts to sha re experiences and learn from one another.
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 11 INTERNET RESOURCES TO HELP YOU RESPOND TO AN INJURED SEA TURTLE Blue Ocean Institute http://www.ioseaturtles.org/Features/turtlebook_eng.pdf Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission 2002a ): http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/managed/sea turtles/conservation guidelines/ Herpetological Animal Care & (HACC 2004) : American Society of Ichthyolo gists and Herpetologists: http://www.asih.org/files/hacc final.pdf IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group et al. 1999): http://iucn mtsg.org/publications/techniques manual en/ and species identifi (Pritchard and tagging of sea (Balaz s 1 999), Teas 1999), t (Walsh 1999), sampling and necropsy a 004): http://www.rac spa.org/node/62 UNEP Mediterranean Action Plan (Gerosa and Casale 1999): http://www.rac spa.org/node/62 UNEP Mediterranean Action Plan Aureggi 2001): http://www.rac spa.org/node/62 US Geological Survey http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/publications/necropsy_manuals/index.jsp US NOAA NMFS http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/t urtles/TM_470_Wyneken.pdf US NOAA NMF S Quick Reference for Atlantic Shark Gill http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms /workshops/Gillnet_Placard_w_ID_final.pdf US NOAA N MFS et al. 2004): http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/turt les/TM_524_Epperly_etal.pdf US NOA A National Ocean Service Oil and Sea Turtles: Biology, Planning, and Response ( Shigenaka 2003): http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/sites/default/files/Oil_Sea_Turtles.pdf WIDECA ST / UNEP Caribbean Environment Prog ramme http://www.widecast.org/Resources/STRAPs.html
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 12 II. Getting Started Contact the Authorities Emphasize Human Health and Safety Keep Accurate Rec ords (see Appendix A) Make an Initial Assessment F ollow Injury specific Instructions ( ) Contact the Authorities Contacting the authorities is an important first step I n most countries the handling of protected or endange red species, including sea turtles, is illegal without a permit. Do not attempt to keep an injured or sick sea turtle in your possession. As with any sick or injured wildlife, sick or injured sea turtles recovered from the beach or f ound floating near shore should be transported immediately to a rescue center Such facilities offer the best chance o f survival for incapacitated or otherwise seriously injured sea turtles. For information on the location of rescue or rehabilitation facilities, trained ve terinari ans, and/or the responsible wildlife authorities in your area, please contact your local fisheries or wildlife office, or visit http://www. widecast.org/What/Regional/Medicine.html For information on how best to transport the animal to a rescue center, veterinarian, or other designated facility see Appendix C In the absence of local expertise, an Emergency Contact List of experienced sea turtle veterinarians willing to answer y our questions has been included in Appendix D. As Caribbean experience grows through the efforts of the STTRC, more and more experts will be resident in Caribbean countries! Emphasize Human Health and Safety Responding promptly, compassionately and appr opriately to an injured sea turtle is important, and in many cases an informed response may be sufficient to enable s quick release. That said, r esponding to an injured animal carries risk. A rescue work er may be cut or bitten, slapped or knocked down by a flailing flipper, suffer sunstroke, aches, strains and bruises, or catch a face full of sand. Additionally, sea turtles, particularly critically ill sea turtles, can harbor a variety of bacteria, virus es and parasites. Care should always be taken to minimize all categories of risk, both to the already traumatized turtle and to the rescue workers. The following preventive measures are recommended by Geraci and Lounsbury (1993) for marine mammals and s hould be applied to turtles : Wear latex gloves when handling sea turtles, carcasses, tissues or fluids Wear waterproof outerwear to protect clothing from contamination Cover surface wounds with protective dressings Wash exposed skin and clothing after han dling sea turtles Seek medical attention for bites, cuts and other injuries, and inform medical attendants of the P rotect yourself with latex gloves and a face covering whenever possible
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 13 Keep Accurate Records The collection of informatio n on sea turtles found dead or debilitated is important. C arefully and accurately c omplete a S tranding Form in each case even if the turtle does not require treatment and is released immediately. We encourage use of the form provided in Appendix A as i t is compatible atabase management software. Submit the c ompleted form to your National STTRC Coordinator (c all your local fisheries or wildlife office o r visit http://www .widecast.org/What/ Regional/Medicine.html to c ontact the STTRC C oordinator in your area ) In addition, please note: 1. A photograph is the single most important piece of information you can provide from a stranding. If possible, submit at least three photographs of each stranded turtle when you mail the original copy of the Stranding Report to your National STTRC Coordinator. Take one close up photo of the of the ventral (lower) s urface of the turtle. Document the dorsal and ventral scute patterns, as well as any apparent injuries or unusual or diagnostic markings; try to provide a size reference in the photograph (e.g. tape measure, clipboard ). If entangling materials are presen t take photos of the turtle before the se materials are removed and take extra photos of the entangling material itself especially any hooks or identification markings (FFWCC 2002 b ) Do not dispose of any entangling materials until asked to do so by the National STTRC Coordinator or other authority. 2. Do not dispose of any turtle carcass that ha s a tag or tag scars until you are asked to do so by the National STTRC C oordinator or other authority ( i n some nations you may not be authorized to handle or dispose of a protected species) Metal flipper t ags removed from dead turtles or tag numbers recorded f r om live turtles should be sent by mail to the return address on the underside of the tag. A functional tag should never be removed from a live turt le. A l iving tag might also be present look for a co ntrasting spot of pigment c reated by the surgical exchange of small pieces of tissue between the carapace and plastron. These marks can easily be seen as the animal grows (see photo insert) 3. If photographs have not been taken, do not dispose of a carcass that has not been positively identified to species. Contact the National STTRC Coordinator or other authority for help i n identifying the turtle (see also Appendix B ) 4. Note that while sea turtles are most readily typica arrangement of scutes on the carapace, scute anomalies do occur ( e.g. a g reen turtle, which normally has 4 pairs of lateral scutes might, on occasion, be observed to have 5 pairs on one or even both s ide s ) S ometimes these anomalies can indicate hybridization I f you s ee an apparent mix of characteristics, in creased effort should be made to photograph the turtle and to save a small piece of frozen muscle (if the turtle is dead). A blood sample (or m uscle sample if the turtle dies) of all potential hybrids that are taken to rescue/ rehab ili t ation facilities should be obtained. Make an Initial Assessment The initial diagnostic assessment of a sick or injured sea turtle typically involves some type of physical examination. U se the following evaluation techniques to classify the turtle as being: Healthy, Injured, Not Active, or Dead (adapted from Gerosa and Aureggi 2001) See Appendix A for the Data Form Living tag, T. Dickinson Flipper tag, S. Kubis Dickinson
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 14 SEA TURTLE FIRST RESPONSE : Initial assessmen t Check list Healthy Response: Return the turtle to the sea, preferably at the site of capture The turtle lifts its head strongly when breathing. When a flipper is gently pulled, there is a strong withdrawal reaction. When placed on solid ground the turtle would generally attempt to make crawling movements. When the turtle is lifted, it moves as if swimming and it holds its limbs and head above the plane of the ventral surface of the body. Injured /Sick Response: Mo vements are very erratic or spasmodic and non directional, appearing uncontrolled. The turtle shows a weak localized flinch response by closing its eyes w hen you lightly t ouch the eye or the upper eyelid with your finger. The turtle shows only a weak withdrawal, or no response, w hen a flipper is gently pulled or when light pressure is applied t o the neck. When the turtle is lifted it does not move and its limbs and head are held below the plane of the ventral (lower) surface of the body. T he re are visual signs of trauma, such as deep cuts, shell breakage, fishing g ear (line, net, hook) entanglement or ingestion, oil / tar contamination, or wounds from blunt force. T he turtle is covered in parasites or shows signs of dehydrat ion, e.g. sunken eyes and skin, soft shell, unnaturally thin (neck or shoulders shrunken away from the shell). Ina ctive Response: There is no response, or n o detectable response, when you lightly touch th e eye or upper eyelid with your finger. There is no withdrawal reaction w hen a flipper is gently pulled or light pressure is applied t o the neck. The turtle makes n o attempt to move on solid ground. Dead Response: The turtle does not respond to any physical stimulus The turtle s flesh has begun to decompose ( rot ) and there is a foul odor R igor mortis is apparent.
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 15 A n ot e about sea turtles : Bec ause this gui de has been designed specifically for use in the (warm!) Caribbean Sea, the decision was made not to address the symptoms of hypothermia seen only when water temperature suddenly drops below 10C (50F) A t such times, sea turtles loose their ability to swim and dive ; they become buoyant and float to the surface where they are vulnerable to predators and illness (Norton 2005 ) The only Wider Caribbean nation where this condition is observed with any regula rity is the US, where it is well known to authorities. Why is this important to know? Because while a cold stunned sea turtle may appear to the laym a n to be dead these animals may, with proper care, survive. The y can be rehabilitated an d ultimately r eleased especially if detected prior to prolonged exposure to cold water temperatures. Again we emphasize the importance of contacting local authorities immediately as i t is vital that these animals receive care as quickly as possible D o not assume the y are dead Sea Turt l e Anatomy Guide The identification of sea turtles to species (see Appendix B ) relies on a combination of factors, mainly the scute pattern on the carapace (i.e. the number of laterals/ costals and ver tebrals) and the scale pattern between the eyes ; e.g. g reen turtles have two large scales between the eyes ( pf: see insert ), whereas h awksbills have four. The assessment and treatment of injured sea turtles may call for a measureme nt of the carapace from nuchal notch to the supracaudals recording the distance between the edge of the plastron or belly shell) and the vent examination of the inguinal area for leeches, examination of the axill ary area for fibropapilloma tumors and so on We have tried to keep the use of technical jargon to a minimum, but sometimes it is unavoidable. The following diagrams provide a simple overview. For more detailed descriptions, see Work (2000) and Wyneken (2001). inguinal area axillary area Source: Pritchard and Mortimer ( 1999 ) v ent (cloaca)
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 16 III. Trauma and Response Overview encourage procedures either in a field setting or by untrained personnel that should more appro priately be done in a clinical setting and by trained personnel. The first priority should always be to contact an authority to report the sick or injured sea turtle and then to make an initial assess ment, attempt to stabilize the animal, and/or t ransport the animal to a rescue or rehabilitation facility or the office of a willing veterinarian. If contact with an authority or other expert, or the transport o f a sick o r injured animal to a care facility, is impossible, such as might be the case i f a turtle were encountered by a fisher or a yachter at sea, note the location of the animal and contact a fisheries or wildlife officer immediately upon entering territorial waters or making landfall. If it seems a reasonable option, bring the turtle onb oard (or tow it slowly alongside) follow the relevant instructions in this field guide and contact the authorities as soon as possible. If you encounter a comatose or unresponsive sea turtle, do not assume it is dead; will be establish ing a national Trauma Response Network (TRN) and some already maintain a 24 hour k or injured sea turtles. The Corps offers training to Fish eries, Forestry, Coast Guard, and Marine Park officers, as well as interested veterinarians, throughout the region. An increasing number of facilities are available to provide urgent short term c are and rehabilitation In cases where there is no local veterinary expert, an E mergency C ontact L ist of experienced sea turtle veterinarians is provided in Appendix D For updated contact information, visit http://www.widecast.org/What/Regional/Medicine.html Please do not bring sea turtles home with the intent of caring for them yourself. In every Caribbean country it is illegal to capture, transport and/or possess an endangered sea turtle during a legally enforced closed season which for some countries is year round The following injuries and maladies along with recommended in situ response options are featured in this section: Boat Strikes Buoyancy Problems Deformities and A mputees Emaciation Entanglement Fibropapillomatosis Fishing Hooks Hunting including Spearfishing Injuries Mating Wounds Oil Contamination Parasites and E pi biota Predat or Attacks (Shark Dog) Trash and Debris Ingestion
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 17 Preparing a Sea Turtle Field Kit A prompt and effective first response to the needs of a sick or injured sea turtle can mean the dif ference between life and death to the animal. Actions taken quickly in a field setting can stabilize the animal for transport, cleanse a wound, reduce blood loss, remove entangling or constricting materials, or extract a fishing hook. In many cases the turtle may be ready for release on the spot! ( Note : Remember to tag the turtle before release; cf. Eckert and Beggs 200 4 ). Be prepared to perform simple b ut potentially life saving actions by organiz ing a Sea Turtle Field Kit Experience will help you fine tune the perfect field kit, but the following items, kept handy in a back pack (and including a copy of this field guide) will get you started : SEA T URTLE FIRST RESPONSE : FIELD KIT Check list C lipboard Note : For supplies specific to petroleum spills, Data Sheets and pencils Waterproof paper Cell p hone Disposable camera Measuring device (e. g. ruler, flexible tape, calipers) R ubber gloves Field knif e; optional : s calpel (handle, blades) Scissors (with sharpener) Toothed forceps Screwdriver and/or dull wood chisel Large syringe (no needle) Assortment of p lastic bags and bottles Indelible marker (for labeling bags, bottles) Flipper tags, tag applicator (wire cutters to remove fouled tags are helpful) Mouth block (gag) Clean gauze or cloth Clean towel (s) Tarp (to carry/drag an animal, as needed) Clotting powder (a styp tic powder such as Kwik Stop) Antibiotic cream ( e.g. a silver sulfadiazine cream such as Silvadine, Thermazine or SSD) Broad based t opical microbicide such as a povidine iodine antiseptic solution ( e.g. Be tadine ) Saline
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 18 Cleansing a Wound In this mean, exactly? W ound s are best cleansed with a b road based topical microbicide, such as a povidine iodine anti septic solution like Betadine The Betadine solution weak tea strength In the absence of an antiseptic solution, clean water will do. Note : Excessively strong Betadine solutio n can irritate tissues, so be mindful of the concentration used With regard to removing dead tissue and foreign material, d o not encourage aggressive debridement by untrained personnel. Directing a medium pressure flow of water or a weak Betadine solut ion (e.g. through a large syringe with no needle, or water pick) is safer than actually touching the wounds with instruments and gloved fingers. The water technique is also less likely to cause excessive bleed ing by removal of foreign material. Note : S ome blood oozing is a good sign for tissue viability. You will also be directed to apply clotting powder sparingly and direct pressure with clean gauze or c loth if heavy bleeding is occurring. S typtic powders, such as Kwik Stop, contain ferric subsu lfate and are preferred Note : Clotting powder is unlikely to be effective in stemming a life threatening hemorrhage. Care should be taken to avoid applying clotting powder into wounds that might enter the coel o mic (body) cavity. Finally, you will be cream such as Silvadine, Thermazine, or SSD. Any of these is generally preferred over a triple antibiotic ( e.g. Neosporin or equivalent), but the triple antibiotic o intments are acceptable i f that is what you have on hand. Note : Triple antibiotic ointments have the advantage in some circumstances in that they help seal water out of a wound because of the petroleum jelly base. Wear gloves! In the photos above, a technician uses a water pick with dilute Betadine to gently cleanse a shell wound at Topsail Turtle Hospital ( C. Harms); a stream of sterile saline solution from the syringe flushes away loose debris and dead tissue on a superficial carapace w ound coated with antimicrobial silver sulfadiazene cream ( New England Aquarium); and a rescue worker cleanses a flipper wound with dilute Betadine, administered through a plastic syringe ( MarineLife Center: MLC). A note about photos : All uncredited p hotos were taken by the authors. All photos credited to the Marine L ife
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 19 Boat Strikes Problem Traumatic injury to sea turtles can occur from watercraft B oat propellers may slice into the turtl e impact (by a boat, personal watercraft [e.g. Jetski ] or windsurfer) can result in internal injury and damage can also occur in association with fishing activities when turtles are caught in nets or dropped onto boat decks. Blunt trauma can be life threatening and e ven an active and alert animal may have suffer ed serious internal injuries. Possi ble Field Treatments / On Site Remedies Treat external wounds on sea turtles as open wounds, and proceed as follows detail s ) : 1. Gently c leanse the wound (wear gloves!) Debride (remove) any dead tissue and foreign material that comes loose with minimal resistance 2. Apply clotting powder sparingly (a styptic powder, such as Kwik Stop, is preferred) ; control heavy bleeding by digital pressure or packing the wound w ith clean gauze or a towel 3. Pack the wound full of antibiotic cream ideally a silver sulfadiazine cream such as Silvadine Thermazine, or SSD 4. If a rescue / rehabilitation center or willing veterinarian is available, transport the turtle immediately (Appendix C ) ; if not, release the turtle back to the sea Note : Wounds on the soft skin of the neck, limbs, and tail are treated in a similar manner as those on the harder surf aces C oncerns and Warnings Clotting powder is unlikely to be effective in stemming a life threatening hemorrhage. Care should be taken to avoid applying clotting powder into wounds that might ent er the coelo mic cavity If the coelomic cavity is expose d, do not flush the wounds just protect the wounds and transport. D o not epoxy fiberglass, or bandage the wound closed Bacteria caught underneath the epoxy fiber glass, or bandage can cause the interior tissues to rot. Exception : Bandages may be used to simply hold the carapace (or skull) in place during transport, and to avoid wound contamination from airborne dirt, etc. Note : Crescent shaped bite marks distinguish shark attacks from boat injuries. If a crescent shaped wound is present, proceed to Predat or Attacks No matter how dramatic the wound, if the animal shows signs of life get help immediately. Remarkable results are possible with current methods of shell repair and reconstruction! Prop wounds on leatherbacks (above) and a loggerhead (below), MLC S. Eckert
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 20 Buoyancy Problems Problem Sea turt les sometimes develop buoyancy disorders, meaning that they are unable to float normally at the surface or to submerge. Generally an afflicted turtle will float with the caudal aspect of the carapace (its rear end) out of the water, but may also list t o one side (see photo) The condition is sometimes accompanied by noticeable scars or scabs on the superoccipital bone ( the back of the head ) and/or on the soft tissue of the back of the neck, from t rying to bring its head up to breathe while in the float ing position Th e disorder may result from air that has leaked out of the respiratory tract and become trapped in the coelomic cavity, or as a result of gaseous distention of the gastrointestinal tract due to an intestinal obstruction ( Campbell 1 996 ). A n afflicted turtle floats on the surface and cannot dive, increasing its chance of being struck by a boat and decreasing its ability to dive to feed or to avoid predators. Possible Field Treatments / On site Remedies 1. There are no field remedies. I f the turtle can be transported to the care of a veterinar ian there are clinical procedures, such as a c oelomic tap to r emove excessive air from the coelomic cavity which can be very effective A compan ion to this field guide Marine Turtle Trauma Response Procedures: A Veterinary is currently under development by WIDECAST to serve as a reference point for veterinary professionals in the Caribbean who may be working with sea turtles ; it will provide additional detail on thi s and many other procedures that cannot be addressed under field conditions Se e http://www.widecast.org/What/Regional/Medicine.html 2 If no rehabilitation center or willing veterinar ian is available, release the turtle back to the sea. Concerns and Warnings Do not attach any type of weight to the turtle (with the intention of forcing it to submerge). A note about rescuing turtles from the water : If you can approach and to uch a sea turtle in the water there is probably something wrong with the turtle. Sea turtles should quickly dive to evade being closely approached or touched. There are two exceptions to this when y ou can approach and possibly touch a turtle that does not need to be rescued. One is when you encounter a post hatchling resting at the surface and t he other is when you encounter a juvenile or adult turtle that has been basking at the surface (often the carapace is dry). As the boat approaches the baskin g turtle, it tries frantically to dive but is unable to do so. It may take the turtle up to 20 minutes to regain neutral buoyancy and then finally dive. C. Harms
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 21 D eformities and Amputees Proble m Sea turtles can exhibit shell deformities that form during early development and may even be present at birth. D eformit ies may also result from a predator attack or a man induced injury, such as f lipper loss due to entanglement in fishing line or a boa t strike. Possi ble Field Treatments / On site Remedies 1. Deformities occur in nature, and sea turtles adjust to them. Unless the turtle has a fresh injury, release the turtle back to the sea 2. Turtles can survive amputated flippers, and contin ue normal swimming and foraging patterns. M ating can be difficult or impossible for a male missing a front flipper, and nesting can be difficult or impossible for a female missing a rear flipper; but on the whole a well healed amputation does not necessar ily mean death in the wild. 3. If the flipper is in the process of amputation due to constrict ing debris ( such as fishing line or cargo netting ), refer to ntan glement 4. I f the flipper amputation is still fresh (bloody, open wound), refer to B oat S trike and/ or Predat additional detail on possible treatments and on site remedies. Concerns and Warnings ability to swim and/or maneuver has clearly and significantly been compromised, such as with the l oss of three or four flippers (or the loss of two flippers on the same side : e.g. both left, both front ) humane euthanasia under the supervision of a veterinarian m ay need to be considered (see Appendix E ). Deformation, MLC Amputation, T. Dickinson Amputa tion, T. Dickinson
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 22 Emaciation Problem Severely emaciated tu rtles have sunken eyes and plastron (belly) and reduction of the muscle masses on the head and neck, creating a prominent appearance to the supraoccipital crest (the back of the head) These t urtles are likely to be covered with barnacles, worms, crabs an d other epibiot a and parasites. Barnacles can even settle inside the mouth where high densities may indicate that the turtle has not eaten in quite some time. The presence of leeches on the skin, eyes, mouth and cloaca can be further signs of a state o f debilitation (Laukner 1985 in RAC/SPA 2004 Campbel l 1996). Free ranging animals found in a weak and emaciated condition generally have a physical or medical problem that inhibits their ability to f eed Such problems can include damage to flippers, mou th parts, eyes or gastro intestinal tract T urtles suffering from a variety of chronic diseases and/or carrying a heavy para site burden may stop feeding for long periods of time and eventually waste away ( George 1997). Note : Small numbers of barnacles and other epibiota, even in the mouth (especially of loggerheads), are normal. Possi ble Field Treatments / On site Remedies 1. Place the emaciated turtle in a tank of freshwater for 24 hours (see also temp erature) and deep enough to cover the animal. The freshwater will kill many of the epibiot a and also help to hydrate the turtle. Clean or replace the water, as necessary, to remove sloughed epibiot a (barnacles and such), feces, etc. Note : T ur tles too debilitated to raise their heads should never be placed in wate r above the nostrils but rather should be kept in the shade initially and covered with freshwater soaked towels. 2. I f a rescue/ rehab ilitation center or willing veterinarian is available, transport the turtle immediately ( Appendix C ); if not, little else can be done in the field. In the absence of long term intensive care which ideally should continue until the turtle returns to normal patterns of feeding and other activity and normal body condition the turtle should be returned to the sea C oncerns and Warnings Before any sea turtle is left in water the following conditions are to be evaluated The animal should be able to: raise its own head to, at least, a 45 angle with r espect to its body, move its flippers in a coordinated manner and regulate its position in a water column (Gerosa and Casale 1999). Sea turtle with heavy barnacle load, MLC Shana Phelan
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 23 Entanglement Problem Entanglement in fishing lines and nets, crab and fish traps, and plastic (e.g. plastic rings from beverage containers ) can cause injury and death. T urtles entangled in these materials may be unable to f eed and will eventually die from starvation, or may be unable to surface for air and will drown. The entangling material may lacerate tiss ue or constrict the blood supply, resulting in the loss of a limb or death if constriction occurs around the head or neck As a priority, the care of a veterinarian should be sought. Possi ble Field Treatments / On site Remedies 1. If the monofilament or plastic line is loosely wrapped around the turtle or tightly binding, but not to the point of breaking the skin carefully cut and remove the line. 2 If the line is tightly wrapped and cutting into tissue do not remove the line unless it i s wrapped around the neck. Mono filament can cause a gradual t o urni que t ; w hen removed, the released pressure can cause a blood vessel to rupture and the turtle to bleed excessively In this case the line should be removed in a clinical setting where th e con dition can be trea ted. 3 If the monofilament h and exits the cloaca, trim the line as close to the mouth and cloaca as possible. Do not pull on the line!! The turtle may be able to pass the line naturally. Be careful, turtle s bite! 4. If the monofilament is entering or exiting the turtle (but not both entering and exiting) apply light tension to the line. If the line does not slide out easily and readily, do not continue to pull Instead, trim the line close to the bo dy and release the animal Concerns and Warnings If the line is tightly binding a flipper and has penetrated flesh do not remove i t without veterinar y assistance If such assistance is not available, release the turtle back to the sea. It may seem inh umane, but turtles can live with an amputated flipper D o not risk the animal bleeding to death. Note : In the event that the turtle will be transported to the care of a veterinarian, leave all fishing line intact because it will aid in hook removal (see If a turtle is encountered at sea tangled in a net or line, it may not be necessary (or possible) to capture and transport the animal ashore. Do your best to maneuver close to the turtle and evaluate the pattern of entanglement. Do no t simply cut the line, because the turtle will most likely swim away still entangled. Attempt to cut or disentangle the line at the point closest to the turtle, so that the line falls away when the turtle is freed. Entangled turtles can be very stressed and t hey may have difficulty surfacing to breat h e T reat them with patience and care Line in mouth, MLC Rope entanglement J. DeSalvo Loos e line around flipper, MLC
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 24 Fibropapillomatosis Problem F ibropapillomatosis (FP) is a serious disease affecting several species of sea turtles, but mainly the g reen turtle. The pre dominant lesions associated with this disease are skin tumors classified as fibromas, papillomas, and fibropapillomas. External growths may impede the ability of the animal to feed or navigate and internal growths can lead to pneumonia, liver or kidney disease, or intestinal obstruction Juvenile s appear to be most affected; lesions in nesting adults are rare T he number of lesions may vary from single to many. They may be smooth or ulcerated, sessile or pedunculated (stalked) small or large, and cutaneous or syst emic. External l esions are commonly found in the conjunctiva, chin, neck, flippers, base of the tail, and axillary and inguinal areas (George 1997 ) Possible Field Treatment / On site Remedies 1. There is no effective treatment and the disease is often fatal. Currently, treatment is aimed at reducing the tumor burden if it affects the ability of the turtle to function normally. For example, t umors may be surgically removed (by a veterinarian) from the eyes and mouth to allow the animal to see an d feed (George 1997). Removal of all tumors on the skin in stages is the treat ment of choice; internal tumors carry a poor prognosis. 2 If a papilloma bearing turtle strands alive, isolate it in a suit able sized container and transport it (see appen dix C ) to an ap propriate location where biopsies of suspect tissue can be taken for evaluation. Note : If possible, the turtle should remain in isolation until the evaluation of the biopsy is complete because t here i s a risk of contamination to other anim als. mean separate tanks with independent water supply and filtration; ideally it also implies separate examining tables, and all associated supplies and equipment, as well as separate staff/caregivers. In flow through situat ions, place affected turtles in the last tanks before the water exits the facility. ) 3 If the affected turtle has a heavy FP burden and i s seriously debilitated, euthanasia at the hands of a veterinarian may be the best option N ote : D o n o t assume that every wart or tumor is FP, only a biopsy can confirm the diagnosis. Co ncerns and Warnings Any time that a suspect turtle is handled, all equipment materials and containers used during hand ling and necropsy should be cleaned, disinfected (for 20 30 min utes) with 10% Clorox immediately following their use and then rinsed thoroughly with freshwater Glove s must be worn at all times when handling suspect turtles See Appendix F for detailed guidelines Vis it http://www.turtles.org/nmfsbib.htm for a bibliography on this subject, maintained by the US National Marine Fisheries Service (Murakawa and Balazs 2005 ) C. Harms MLC MLC
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 25 Fishing Hooks Problem F ishing hooks can become lodged in a sea beak, throat, fl ipper stomach or intestinal tract. Hooks often cause tears in the intestinal tract or puncture vital organs and line attached to the hooks can cause entanglement or intestinal obstruction. As a priority, the care of a veterinarian should be sought. P ossibl e Field Treatments / On site Remedies 1. If hooked externally on the body or the beak and the whole shank of the hook is visible, carefully draw the barb of the hook out and cut it with a clipper, then remove the rest of the hook. If the hook is in the mouth area, use a mouth block ( e.g. a broom stick) to reduce the chance of being bitten (see Appendix G ). 2. If hooked internally in the throat stomach or intestinal tract a nd a rescue/ rehabilitation center or willing veterinarian is avail a ble, do not cut the line; instead, transport the animal immedi ( Hint : T ape the excess line to the carapace during transport to avoid snags) A turtle may have several (unseen) longline hooks lodged in t ernally and the pro ces s of extraction may require anesthetic 3 If the turtle has ingested the hook (s) and a veterinarian is not available, cut the line as close to the mouth as possible and re move any excess line ( i f the line is tightly constricting the turtle, Release the turtle back to the sea. Concerns and Warnings B e careful and always use a mouth block when evaluating the oral cavity Handle all fishing line gently; do not forcefully pull on the line If t he turtle can be treated for deep hook ingestion in a clinical setting, do not cut the line attached to the hook ; m ost hook removal techniques are greatly assisted by the presence of the attached line. If a turtle is encountered at sea it may not be poss ible to capture and transport the animal ashore. Do your best to maneuver close to the turtle and evaluate the hooking location. Long handled tools are available to assist in such situations (see http://www.deh ooker4arc.com ) but the observer is unlikely to have these tools onboard. It is best to a ttempt to cut or disentangle the line /hook at the point closest to the turtle (without pulling forcibly) and allow the turtle to swim away See G e rosa and Aureggi (2001) and Epperly et al. (2004) for useful information on hook removal. See Appendix G for a brief guide promoted by US NOAA/NMFS (McNaughton 2004). Hooked and/or entangled turtles can be very stressed. Treat them with patience and care Hooked flipper C. Harms Line in mouth, MLC H ook ingestion, C. Harms
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 26 Hunting in cluding S pearfishing Injuries Problem Traumatic injury to sea turtles can occur purposefully, such as might result from an interrupted or otherwise unsuccessful attempt to kill a nesting female or to spear a foraging juvenile, or inadvertently when a fi sherman attempts to release an en tangled turtle from his net. Speared t urtles exhibit localized puncture wounds. Spears can cause organ and tissue damage, and create open wounds that become susceptible to infection. Failed hunting / poaching attempts may result in a cracked s hell and cut or severed limbs Possible Field Treatments / On site Remedies Treatment will depend on the severity of the injury. In most cases these are not injuries that can be field treated. However, if there is no veterinarian or rehabilitation facilit y available, there are some useful actions that can be taken: Amputated flipper: 1. If a flipper i s gone, place the turtle in the shade, cover with damp cloth, and attempt to curb the bleeding using clotting powder and/or cl ean gauze or cloth with direct pressure 2. If two flippers remain (contra lateral fore and hind ; e.g. a left front flipper and a right rear flipper), respond as in #1. E xperts tell us that the turtle is likely to survive and thrive in the wild. Ano ther option is to consider taking the animal i nto captivity as 3. If three or four flippers are gone, euthanasia may be the most humane option (see Appendix E ) Cracked shell: Treat external wounds on sea tur tles as open wounds (see : 1. Gently c leanse the wound (wear gloves!) Debride (remove) any dead tissue and foreign material that comes loose with minimal resistance 2. Apply clotting powder sparingly (a sty ptic powder, such as Kwik Stop, is preferred) ; control heavy bleeding by digital pressure or packing the wound w ith clean gauze or a towel 3. Pack the wound full of antibiotic cream, ideally a silver sulfadiazine cream such as Silvadine, Thermazine, or SSD Machete blows to the neck, S. Eckert Machete blows to the shell, MLC Shana Phelan
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 27 4. If a rehabilitation center or willing veterinarian is available, transport the animal immediately (see Appendix C ); if not, release the turtle back to the sea. Spear wound: 1. Wounds on the soft skin of the neck, limbs, and tail are tr eated in a similar manner as those on the harder surfaces; that is, cleanse, apply pressure for bleeding, and treat with topical antibiotics prior to release. 2. In the case of a deep wound, make every attempt to have the wound examined by a medical p rofessional. Deep puncture wounds often have severe impacts; e.g. damage to vital or gans, a naerobic infections, septicemia Concerns and Warnings Clotting powder is unlikely to be effective in stemming a life threatening hemorrhage. Care should be t aken to avoid applying clotting powder into wounds that might enter the coelomic cavity. If the coelomic cavity is exposed, do not flush the wounds just protect the wounds and transport. Do not epoxy fiberglass or bandage the wound shut Bacteria cau ght underneath the epoxy fiber glass, or bandage can cause the interior tissues to rot. Exception : Bandages may be used to simply hold the carapace (or skull) in place during transport, and to avoid wound contamination from airborne dirt, etc Mating Wounds Problem D uring mating season, both male and female sea turtles can exhibit open wounds related to mating practices. F emales may have bite marks around the head and neck, and /or raw wounds on the shoulders or carapace margin from the Males may have bite injuries on front and/or rear flippers. Possible Field Treatment / On site Remedies There is no need to treat these wounds, as they occur naturally and will heal in due time Co ncerns and Warnings P airs of sea t urtles may get washed into shallow waters while mating. Do not worry or interfere; this is normal behavior. If the turtles appear to be stranded or in harm s way, contact your National STTRC Coordinator fisheries or marine officer or other authority. Green turtle with mating wound on shoulder, MLC Green turtles mating, G. Jones Spear injury to the neck, R. Byrne
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 28 O il Contamination Problem P etroleum products can adversely affect sea turtles at all life stages The turtle may be covered with oil or tar and may also have ingested this material and suffer from toxicosis. In addition to decreasing mobility due to fouling, skin exposure may result in necrosis and sloughing of tissue (George 1997) Poss ible Field Treatment / On site Remedies 1. Remove surface oiling P lain mayonnaise is very effective in removing surface oil and has the added advantage of being gentle on the F ood oils, such as olive, sunflower or soy, are effective in breaking up and removing external oil D ishwashing detergent (e.g. Dawn) or other mild sur factants can be used, along w ith copious amounts of warm water 2. Rinse 3. Repeat the cleaning cycle until all physical evidence of oil or tar has been removed 4. Clean the head and oral cavit y using clean cloths dampened with food oil Use a mouth block when working i n the oral cavity. 5. If a rescue/ rehabilitation center or willing veterinarian is available, transport the turtle immediately (see Appendix C ). Keep the animal under observation for 24 hours to ensure that it has full mobility. If no facility is ava ilable, release the turtle to the sea once all surface oiling has been removed. Concerns and Warnings When using dishwashing detergent, be careful not There is no on site treatment for oil ingestion The best solution is to refer these animals to a rescue/ rehabilitation center or a willing veterinarian. For more details on the physiological effects of exposure, and additional information on cleansing, see L utcavage et al. (1995, 1997), George (1997), Mig nucci Giannoni (1999) and Shigenaka (2003) : http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/sites/default/files/Oil_Sea_Turtles.pdf Turtle in oil spill, followed by rescue and clean up (below), St Maarten Nature Foundation C. Ha rms A. Meylan
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 29 Parasites and E pi biota Problem Sea turtle s can host many different types of parasites (e.g. leeches) and e pibiota ( meaning ba rnacles and other surface attaching free loaders) Parasites and e pibiota are normal and natural for sea creatures, and we do not recommend their removal unless there is evidence they are debilitating or harming the turtle in some obvious way. Leeches : Leeches can occur in small or large numbers. They are most often located on the soft tissue surfaces of the axilla and inguinal areas, but can attach around the eyes, mouth, nostrils and cloaca. Aggregations of yellow or brown egg cases may be found on the carapace, plastron, and flippers (George 1997) Animals carrying large numbers of leeches become anemic and can have extensive areas of macerated dermal tissue. Si nce leeches can complete their life cycle on the host turtle, animals can rapidly develop severe infestations. Barnacles : Several types of barnacle s are found on sea turtles ; large numbers may cause stress : s ome increase surface drag, while others can d amage the underlying shell, skin and bone allow ing bacterial or fungal pathogens to enter (George 1997) Large numbers of b arnacles i n the mouth may i ndicat e that the turtle has not eaten in a long while suggesting a n underlying illness or injury that ne eds treatme nt Possible Field Treatment / On site Remedies Leeches : Give the turtle a 1.5 24 hr freshwater bath (cf. Choy et al. 1989) to remove leeches (eggs may have to be scraped off) ; release the turtle back to the sea. If the turtle is debilitated, transport it to a rescue/ rehabilitation facility where freshwater baths of up to one week (no more) may be part of a comprehensive strategy to remove all external parasites. Barnacles : Place the turtle in a freshwater bath for at least 24 h r to kill of fending barnacles and other organisms. Carefully remove individual barnacles b y inserting the tip of the screwdriver into the barnacle opening and prying it off; alternatively, work the tip of the screwdriver or dull chisel between the barnacle and the und erlying scute, and then gently twist to detach the barnacle These tools should be held in the same plane as the carapace or plastron when removing the barnacles to avoid damage to the scutes After treatment, r elease the turtle to the sea Concerns a nd Warnings Before placing the turtle in the freshwater, check that the animal can raise its head to breathe I f the removal of a barnacle results in bleeding apply clotting powder and light pressure with clean gauze or c loth until the bleeding stops; r elease the animal to the sea. Damage caused during removal of barnacles can provide a pathway for infection Barnacles deeply imbedded in a scute, or that cannot be removed without damaging the scute, should not be removed. From top to bottom: leech eggs C. McClellan; leeches, barnacles, C. Harms
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 30 Pr edat or Attacks ( Shark Dog) Problem Sea t urtles fall p rey t o sharks and during nesting, t o terrestrial preda tors ( e.g. dogs jaguars). Non fatal encounter s can still result in d am age to skin, shell and /or internal organs. Shark bites can b reak through shell, damage skin, an d sever limbs and are characterized by ragged, crescent shaped cuts, missing soft tissue, and generally severe but localized damage to the shell and skin (Campbell 1996) The crescent shaped bite marks distinguish shark attacks from boat injuries, and ot her predation. Dogs often rip into the neck and other soft tissue, leav ing the turtle stunned, bleeding and/or mortally wounded. Possi ble Field Treatments / On site Remedies Treat external wounds on sea turtles as open wounds, and proc e ed along much the same lines as recommended for Boat Strikes and Hunting Injuries : 1. Gently c leanse the wound (wear gloves!) Debride (remove) any dead tissue and foreign material that comes loose with minimal resis tance 2. Apply clotting powder (a styptic powder, such as Kwik Stop, is pre ferred) sparingly and direct pressure with clean gauze or cloth if heavy bleeding is occurring. 3. Pack the wound full of antibiotic cream, ideally a silver sulfadiazine cream such as Silvadine, Thermazine, or SSD. 4. If a rescue / rehabilitation center or wil l ing veterinarian is avail able, transport the sea turtle immediately (see Appendix C ); if not, release the turtle back to the sea. Note : Wounds on the soft ski n of the neck, limbs and tail are treated in a similar manner as those on the harder surfaces; that is, cleanse, apply pressure for bleeding, and treat with topical antibiotics prior to release. Co ncerns and Warnings Clotting powder is unlikely to be e ffective in stemming a life threatening hemorrhage. Care should be taken to avoid applying clotting powder into wounds that might enter the coelomic cavity. If the coelomic cavity is exposed, do not flush the wounds just protect the wounds and transpor t. Do not epoxy, fiberglass, or bandage the wound shut. Bacteria caught underneath the epoxy fiber glass, or bandage can cause the interior tissues to rot. Exception : Bandages may be used to simply hold the carapace (or skull) in place durin g transport, and to avoid wound contamination from airborne dirt, etc. Dog kill, J. Horrocks Shark bite, MLC Shark bite, T. Dickinson Shark bite, T. Dickinson
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 31 Trash and Debris Ingestion Problem Gastrointestinal obstruction ( impaction or blockage of the gut) can result when sea turtles eat non biodegradable trash such as plastic, glass and metal that is mistaken for food. P lastics in particular, including bags and packaging material, are wide spread in the oceans and cause considerable trouble to sea tur tles and other marine life (Balazs 1985, Witzell and Teas 1994, Bjorndal et al. 1994 ) Possi ble Field Treatments / On Site Remedies If a rescue/ rehabilitation center or willing veterinarian is avail able, transport the turtle immediately (see Appendix C ) so that it can be kept for observation until the material passes from the body, o r be If no veterinarian is available, the following responses are recom mended under field conditions. Note : Impacted turtles do not feed, they become dehydrated, and their intestinal motility shuts down H ydrati o n can encourage passage of foreign material s eliminating the need for surgery Plastic Bags : 1. Gently pull on the plastic bag. If you meet with resistance, STOP. Trim the bag as close to the turtle as possible and release i t to the sea. T he debris may pass from the body in due time. Monofilament fishing line : 1. If monofilament is hanging from t he turtle s mouth or the cloaca gently pull on the line. If you meet with resistance, STOP. Trim the line as close to the turtle as possib le and release i t T he line may pass from the body in due time. 2. If the monofilam ent is protruding from both the mouth and the cloaca, DO NOT PULL on the line. Trim the line as close to the mouth and the cloaca as possible ; release the turtle to the sea. Concerns and Warnings Be careful Turtles will bite! A lways use a mouth block when evaluating the oral cavity. Follow up : E very year, volunteers in dozens of countr ies around the world participate in The Oce an International Coastal Cleanup Please v isit http://www.oceanconservancy.org/our work/marine debris/international coastal cleanup 11.html for the name of a n ICC Coordinator in your area including contacts in several Wider Caribbean States and territories. Get involved! Plastic foun d inside a hawksbill sea Turtle with plastic straw in mouth, Centro Ecolgico Akumal Turtle with line in mouth, MLC
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 32 Special Consideration s : Hatchlings Problem Hatchlings can be disoriented b y beachfront lighting and wander i nland (Witherington and Martin 200 3 ) Alternatively, hatchlings are occasionally removed illegally from the nesting beach and kept as pets in home aquaria where they are often housed in freshwater, fed inappropriately, and fail to thrive. Possible Fie ld Treatment / On site Remedies If hatchlings are rescued, such as after being disoriented by lighting, they should be released immediately I f re scued during the heat of the day, they should be kept until late afternoon or evening in a lightly covered plastic cooler or bucket 1. Place a few inches of damp beach sand in the cooler If the sand is too dry, the young turtles may desiccate (dry out); if too wet, energy will be wasted in swimming, and weak hatchlings may be unable to hold their heads above the water to breathe. 2. Cover the cooler or box and place it in the sha de until late afternoon or nightfall. Supervise the container to avoid the un wanted attention of predators (e.g. dogs) and onlookers. 3. At the time of release, k eep predators ( e.g. dogs, birds, crabs) away from the hatchlings as they cross the beach. Select an unlit stretch of beach (prefera bly the beach where the eggs were laid) to release the hatchlings; if the beach is well lit, ask the landowner/ hotelier to tur n off the lights briefly as the hatchlings make their way to the sea. To encourage natural sea finding, use minimum light and pr ohibit flash photography during hatchling release s Concerns and Warnings Never toss newborn hatchlings directly into the sea It is important that the hatching process be as undisturbed as possible so as not to interrupt the natural progression of the hatchling from the nest, across the beach, through the coastal zone, and into the open sea where it will spend the first several years of life. Exception : Sometimes hatchlings successfully leave the nest, enter the sea, and wash ashore weeks later (e.g. by storms) as post hatchlings Depending on its size, the young animal may have to be ferried out to an oceanic convergence where fishermen would normally encounter that life stage. Note: If the hatchling is injured or oiled, refer to the relevant section of this field guide. It is illegal to possess sea turtles during the nesting/ hatchi ng season in m any Caribbean countries. Unless clearly sick / debilitated, newborn h atchlings should be released to the sea as soon as possible swim frenzy into open ocean sy stems immediately after departing the nesting beach. Each day a hatchling is held captive, drawing on its internal food stores, makes it more likely that it will deplete its yolk and be forced to stop prematurely to feed i n p redator rich coastal waters. Hawksbill hatchlings, S. Eckert Leatherback hatchlings, BSTP
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 33 IV. Resuscitation Procedures A traumatized sea turtle may be in an anoxic state (deficient of oxygen) and comatose. The casual observer may not notice a very occasional shallow breath The brain has biochemical adaptations that allow sea turtles to w ithstand lengthy periods of anoxia ; t his normal response to anoxia may provide some level of protection to the sea turtle, enabling it to fully recover, with proper care, without experiencing any negative consequences (George 1997 ) If possible, seek vete rinary attention immediately. Many of these animals can be intubated and placed on a ventilator, which greatly facilitates recovery. There is much that can be done, however, even under field conditions ( e.g. Stabenau et al. 2001) and t urtles that have b ecome comatose from anoxic submergence (such as by an exhausting struggle when trapped underwater in a net) can often be successfully resuscitated. Comatose turtles should be maintained at an optimum temperature of 25 30 C (77 86F) Even if no life si gns are noted, the animal should be placed protected in the shade and monitored for several hours for any signs of revival. 1. Place the turtle in the shade and raise its hind quarters a few degrees (15 20%) off the ground t he objective is simply to drain water without putting excess pressure on the lungs. Hint : T ires boat cushions (see photo) and life b oat rings can be used to 2. A water soaked towel draped over the still gently inclined turtle may help to prev ent over heating. Do not place the towel over the turtle s head and do not place the turtle in a container holding water! 3. Check for eye reflex ( lightly touch the eye or upper eyelid with your finger, and look for the turtle to close its eye or flin ch) every couple of hours (up to 24 hr) until the turtle responds (see Appendix G ) 4. If the turtle responds, let it revive for a few more hours (until it moves normally and can raise its head to breathe) and then release it to the sea. As the turtle starts to revive it may move its front flippers ; s hortly after voluntary movement begins, the turtle will generally breathe on its own. If possible, always tag a sea turtle prior to its release (see Eckert and Beggs 200 4 ). 5 Gerosa and Aureggi (2001 ) also suggest (i) holding the turtle firmly about 10 cm off the ground and gently rocking it from side to side (see also NOAA 2001) or (ii) lightly pinching the cloaca at which point a live animal will cont r act the cloaca or move its tail sideways 6 If there is no response to any of the above or if the response is undetectable, after 24 h ours the turtle can be considered dead Refer to Section V Concerns and Warnings Do not place turtles in any container holding water. In additi on to the above can be administered every few hours to p romote the movement of air through the lung s: r eplicate swimming or flying motions by g ently pull ing the front flippers for ward (in front of the turtle) an d then back to the s ides Repeat the process When there is a response, treat the turtle as conscious. T. Dickinson
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 34 V. Necropsy A necropsy ( t he animal equivalent of an autopsy) is one of the basic tools used to determine why an animal dies. It involves the thorough examination of a c arcass externally and internally for any indications of causes of death. A good necropsy involves careful observations of lesions or abnormalities and procure ment, labeling, and storage of t issue samples. Laboratory tests on properly preserved tissues all ow wildlife disease specialists to systematically evaluate potential causes of wildlife mortality (Work 2000). The external examination involves close inspec tion of the turtle and emphasizes the collection of standardized data, including measurements. The minimum measurements to be obtained are : body weight, head length and width, carapace length (straight line and curved if possible ) and width, plastron length and width, distance between plastron and vent, and distance between plastron and tip of tai l. Look for any sign of injur y such as th at caused by an encounter with a water craft (e.g. propeller cuts), line entanglement, rope burns, s hark bites etc Severely emaciated turtles have sunken eyes and plastron and reduction of the muscle masses on the head and neck, creating a promi nent appearance to the supraoccipital crest at the back of the head. Flippers should be examined for holes or scars from lost flipper tags. Any masses, swellings, discolorations, and scars should also be noted ( Campbel l 1996). Why do a necropsy? A necropsy yields general information useful to management, i ncluding diet and reproductive condi tion. Never discard an opportunity to learn as much as possible from a dead animal. Necropsies of turtles caught by pelagic l ongline vessels for example, can provide unique insight into the ecology of elusive pelagic stage turtles (Work and Balazs 2002). How to conduct a necropsy This field guide is not designed as a necropsy manual The most user friendly reference, in ou r view, is Work (2000) Presented in a full color format, and available in several languages, i t was written for biologists w ho have little or no background in necropsy techniques T he photographs and illustra tions are very helpful in recognizing vari ous organs, obtaining samples, etc. Work (2000) and Wyneken (2001) both provide information on how to take s tandard m easurements ; guidance on measuring sea turtles is also available in B olten (1999). Additional detail on various aspects of sea turtle a natomy c an be found in Wyneken (2003) and Bartol and Musick (2003). Jacobson (1999) is a nother excellent re source as is a related Internet based guide provided by the University of Florida Colle ge of Veterinary Medicine : Sea Turtle Biopsy and Necropsy T http://labs.vetmed.ufl.edu/sample requirements/microbiology parasitology serology/zoo med infections/ MLC Eckert MLC Eckert
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 35 SEA TURTLE Necropsy manuals and related resources va et al. 1999): http://iucn mtsg.org/publications/techniques manual en/ ; see, Un http://labs.vetmed.ufl.edu/sample requirements/microbiology parasitology serology/zoo med infections/ http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/publications/necropsy_manuals/index.jsp http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/turtles/TM_470_Wyneken.pdf ; see, in particular, the section entitled, "Methods on D issection Concerns and Warnings Remember that you may need a permit to conduct a necropsy. Dead turtles should not be lif ted by the head or flippers Ideally they should be lifted by the carapace, with one person on each side of the turtle holding the carapace at the nuchal notch and suprapygals ( i.e. one hand on the shell just behind the head, the other at the posterior ti p). On land, there is never a reason to lift a turtle by its flippers (the bones in the flipper or shoulder may be fractured or dis located this way). When hefting a turtle onto a boat, the flippers can be used to help lift the turtle out of the water as long as those lifting the turtle hold the base of the flipper and not the tip Even in this situation, those lifting the turtle should work to avoid as much stress on a single flipper as possible. Dead and decaying sea turtle tissues harbor a variety of potentially harmful organisms some of which can infect humans. Potentially dangerous consequences that may result from exposure can be re duced by wearing appropriate clothing (protective overalls and rubber gloves), eye protection (safety glasses or s un glasses), and by being careful when handling tissue. You should protect any open wounds with dressings, and avoid contact with fluids or airborne droplets. Always keep disinfectant solutions at hand (Geraci and Lounsbury 1993) Any cuts suffered by people while conducting a necropsy should be thoroughly cleaned and treated. Any wound, however minor, needs to be carefully monitored for signs of infection. Infection under these circumstances can occur, and can become dangerous very quickly. T he carc ass must be properly disposed after conducting a necropsy
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 36 VI. Carcass Disposal After documenting a beach stranding, or conducting a necropsy, the carcass must be properly disposed as follows : Let It Lie : Leave the carcass where it is paint a large bright on the shell (to reduce the chance of recording the same turtle more than once), and let weather, tide, and scavengers do the work. This is co mmon practice in uninhabited areas where there is no concern about a smell y mess or public health hazard. The decomposition process is remarkably fast and can be quicken ed by opening t he abdomen to invite scavengers and to prevent bloating in the hot sun. Moreover, i n the event that the carcass is washed back to sea, an open carcass more readily sink s, re duc ing confusion associated with re sighting s a nd redundant data collection. Bury It : Conventional wisdom suggests that a quick way to conceal a carcass and to encourage decomposition is to bury i t. If this is the pref erred option, select a place high on the beach where surf and tide are unlikely to expose the carcass and wash it away. Bury the carcass under at least 1 meter of sand. Paint across the shell before burying the carcass in a prepared h ole I f it reappears later, you will know it was pre viously identified and cataloged. Note : Make every attempt to avoid both heavily trafficked areas and the disfiguring of native vegetation and dune area s Move it : When a carcass is a nuisance, ha zard, or public health risk, it may be desirable to move it to a more appropriate dis posal site. Permission at one or more levels of government may be required for the transfer. As in the case of in situ burial, the carcass should be interned under at l east 1 meter of soil to discourage scavengers and reduce foul odor. Incinerate it : When possible and where available, in urban set tings, incinerate the carcass. Concerns and Warnings Dead and decaying sea turtle tissues harbor a variety of potentially harmful organisms some of which can infect humans. Potentially dangerous consequences that may result from exposure can be reduced by wearing appropriate clothing (protective overalls and rubber gloves), eye protection (safety glasses or sun glasses), a nd by being careful when handling tissue. Persons should protect open wounds with dressings, and avoid contact with fluids or airborne droplets. Always keep disin fectant solutions at hand (Geraci and Lounsbury 1 9 9 3) Animals containing administered tox ic substances or drugs must not be disposed of in areas where they may become part of the natural food web ( HACC 2004 ). Stranded paint marked loggerhead, M. Godfrey Stranded leatherback, prepared for transport (b e l ow) R. van der Wal
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 37 Literature cited AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association). 2001. 2000 Report of the AVMA Panel on Euthan asia. JAVMA 218(5):669 696 http://www.avma.org/issues/animal_welfare/euthanasia.pdf Balazs, G.H. 1985. Impact of ocean debris on marine turtles: entanglement and ingestion, p.387 429. In : R.S. Shomura a nd H.O. Yoshida (Editors), Proceedings of the Workshop on the Fate and Impact of Marine Debris, 26 29 November 1984. NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS SWFC 54. U S Dept. Com merc e. Honolulu. http://swfsc.noaa.gov/publications/TM/SWFSC/NOAA TM NMFS SWFC 54.pdf Balazs, G.H. 1999. Factors to consider in the tagging of sea turtles, p.101 109. In : K.L. Eckert, K.A. Bjorndal, F.A. Abreu G. and M. Donnelly ( Editors .), Research and Manageme nt Techniques for the Conservation of Sea Turtles. IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group Publ ication No. 4. Washing ton D.C. http://iucn mtsg.org/publications/techniques manual en/ Bartol, A, N. and J.A. Musick. 2003. Sensory biology of sea turtles, p.79 102. In : P.L. Lutz, J.A. Musick and J. Wyneken ( Editors ), The Biology of Sea Turtles Volume II. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida. Bjorndal, K.A., A.B. Bolten and C.J. Lagueux. 1994. Ingestion of marine debris by juvenile sea turtles in coastal Florida habitats. Marine Pollution Bulletin 28(3):154 158. Bolten, A.B. 1 999. Techniques for measuring sea turtles, p.110 114. In : K.L. Eckert, K.A. Bjorndal, F.A. Abreu G. and M. Donnelly ( Ed itors) Research and Management Techniques for the Conserva tion of Sea Turtles. IUCN/SSC Marine Turtl e Specialist Group Publ ication N o. 4. Wash ington D C. http://iucn mtsg.org/publica tions/techniques manual en/ Campbell, T.W. 1996. Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Section VII (Appendix) p.427 436. In : D.R. Mader (Editor), Reptile Medicine and Surgery. W.B. Saunder Company, Philadelphia. CCAC 1993. Guide to the Care and Use of Experimen tal Animals ( Vol I Second Edition) Chapter XII: E uthanasia. Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC). http://www.ccac.ca/Documents/Standards/Guidelines/Experim ental_Animals_Vol1.pdf Choy, B. K ., G. H. Balazs, and M. Dailey. 1989. A new therapy for marine turtles parasitized by the piscicolid leech, Ozobranchus branchiatus Herp etological Review 20(4):89 90. Colbert A.A. C.M. Woodley, G. T Seaborn, M.K. Moo re and S.B. Galloway. 1999. Forensic aspects, p. 232 235. In : K.L. Eckert, K.A. Bjorndal, F.A. Abreu G. and M. Donnelly (Editors), Research and Management Techniques for the Conservation of Sea Turtles. IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group Publ ication No 4. Washington D.C. http://iucn mtsg.org/publications/techniques manual en/ Eckert, K L. and J Beggs. 200 4 Marine T urtle Tagging: A Manual of Recommended Practices. WIDECAST Tech nical Report No. 2. Beaufort, N orth Carolina. 38 pp. http://www.widecast.org/ Resources/Docs/Eckert_Beggs_2006_Sea_Turtle_Tagging_Manual_revised_edition.pdf Eckert, K.L ., K A. Bjorndal, F.A. Abreu G. M. Donnelly ( Editors ). 1999. Research and Management T echniques for the Conservation of Sea Turtles. IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group Publ ica tion No. 4. Washington, D.C http://iucn mtsg.org/publications/techniques manual en/
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 38 Ec sion 3.0. Beaufort, North Carolina. 60 pp. http:// www.widecast.org/ tagging Epperly, S., L. Stokes and S. Dick. 2004. C areful Release Protocols for Sea Turtle Release with Minimal Injury. NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS SEFSC 524. U.S. De p artment of Commerce M iami Florida 42 pp. http://www. nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/Protected%20Resources/TM_524.pdf FFWCC. 2002 a Sea Turtle Conservation Guidelines Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commis sion St. Petersbur g Florida 111 pp. http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/managed/sea turtles/conservation guidelines/ FFWCC. 2002 b Sea Turtle Conservation Guidelines. Section III: Stranding and Salvage Activities. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissi on St. Petersburg Florida http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/managed/sea turtles/conservation guidelines/ FWS. 2000. Requirements for Care and Maintenance of Captive Sea Turtles. D raft dated October 8, 2000. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jacksonville, Florida. 9 pp. George, R.H. 1997. Health Problems and Diseases of Sea Turtles, p.363 385. In : P.L. Lutz and J.A. Musick (Editors), The Biology of Sea Turtles. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida Geraci, J R. and V J. Lounsbury. 1993. Marine Mammals Ashore: A Field Guide for Strandings. Texas A&M Sea Grant Publications. College Station, Texas. 305 pp. Gerosa, G and M Aureggi. 2001. Sea Turtle Handling Guideboo k for Fishermen. UNEP M editerrane an Action Plan, Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas. Tunis. http://www.rac spa.org Gerosa, G. and P. Casale. 1999. Interaction of Marine Turtles with Fisheries in the Mediterranean. UNEP Mediterranean A ction Plan Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas, Tunis. 59 pp. http://www.rac spa.org Gilman, E. 2004. Catch Fish Not Turtles Using Longlines. Blue Ocean Institute [pamphlet] http://www.Ioseaturtles.org/Features/turtlebook_eng.pdf HA CC. 2004. Guidelines for the Use of Live Amphibians and Reptiles in Field and Laboratory Re search, Second Edition. Herpetological Animal Care and Use Committee, American Society of Ichthy ologists and Herpetologists. http://www.asih.org/files/hacc final.pdf Herbst, L.H. 1999. Infectious diseases of marine turtles, p.208 213. In : K.L. Eckert, K.A. Bjorndal, F.A. Abreu G. and M. Donnelly ( Editors ), Research and Management Techniques for the Conserva tion of Sea Turtles. IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group Publ ication No. 4. Wash ington, D C. http://iucn mtsg.org/publications/techniques manual en/ Higgins, B.M. 2003. Sea turtl e husbandry, p.411 440. In : P.L. Lutz, J.A. Musick and J. Wyneken (eds.), The Biology of Sea Turtles Volume II. CRC Press. Boca Raton, Florida. Jacobson, E. 1999. Tissue sampling and necropsy techniques, p.214 220. In : K.L. Eckert, K.A. Bjorndal, F.A. Abr eu G. and M. Donnelly (eds.), Research and Management Techniques for the Con servation of Sea Turtles. IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group Publ ication N o. 4 Wash ington, D C. http:/ /iucn mtsg.org/publications/techniques manual en/
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 39 Lauckner, G. 1985. Diseases of Reptilia. In : O. Kinne (Editor), Diseases of Marine Animals, Biologische Anstalt Helgoland, Hamburg, Germany. Vol 4, Part 2, Chap ter 2:553 626. Lutcavage M E P.L. Lutz G.D. Bos sart and D.M. Hudson 1995. Physiologic and clinicopathologic effects of crude oil on lo ggerhead turtles. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 28(4):417 4 22. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=7755395&dopt= Citation Lutcavage, M.E., P. Plotkin, B. Witherington and P.L. Lutz. 1997. Human Impacts on Sea Turtle Survival, p.387 409. In : P.L. Lutz and J.A Musick (Editors), The Biology of Sea Turtles. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida McNaughton, L. 2004. Protected Species Handling Guide. Prepared by JIMAR (University of Hawai i) for NOAA / NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office, Honolulu U.S. Depar tment of Commerce. Meylan, P., A. Meylan and J. Gray. 2003. Procedures Manual for the Bermuda Turtle Project. Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo. 37 pp. Mignucci Giannoni, A.A. 1999. Assessment and rehabilitation of wildlife affected by an oil spill in Pue rto Rico. Environ. Pollution 104:323 333. Murakawa, S.K.K. and G.H. Balazs (Compilers) 2005. Marine Turtle Fibropapilloma Bibliography. NOAA/ NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office, Honolulu. http://www.tu rtles.org/nmfsbib.htm NMFS SFSC (National Marine Fisheries Service Southeast Fisheries Science Center). 2008 (*) Sea Turtle Research Techniques Manual. NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS SEFSC 579. Miami, Florida. 92 pp. http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/turtles/TM_ 579_SEFSC_STRTM.pdf (*)2008 citation up dated for our Second Printing ( 2012 ) ~ K .L. Eckert NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service 2001. Sea Turtle Conservation; Restrictions Applicable to Fishing and Scientific Research Activities. Federal Register 66 ( 250): 67495 67496 (Monday, Decem ber 31, 2001). http://www.nero.noaa.gov/ prot_res/ProResDiv/turtles/handlingregs.pdf Norton, T.M. 2005. Topics in Medicine and Surgery: Chelonian Emergency and Critical Care. Semi nars in Avian and Exotic Pet Medicine 14(2) : 106 130. NYS/CCE. 2005. Best Practices: Lethal Tools and Techniques (Chapter 5 : Step 3 ), Best Practices for Nuisance Wildlife Control Operators in New York State. New York State (NYS) Department of Environmental Conservation and Cornell University Cooperative Extension (CCE). http://nwco.net/default.asp Ocean Watch Australia. 2003. Circle of Dependence: Protected Species Handling Manual. Ocean Watch, Pyrmont, NSW Aust ralia. 38 pp. http://www.oceanwatch.org.au/wp content/uploads/2010/01/PSHMII.pdf Pritchard, P.C.H. and J.A. Mortimer. 1 999. Taxonomy, external morphology and species iden ti fication, p.21 4 0 In : K.L. Eckert, K.A. Bjorndal, F.A. Abreu G. and M. Donnelly ( Editors ), Research and Management Techniques for the Conservation of Sea Turtles. IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Speci alist Group Publ ication No. 4. Washington D.C. http://iucn mtsg.org/publications/techniques manual en/
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 40 RAC/SPA. 2004. Guidelines to Improve the Involvement of Marine Rescue Centres for Marine Turtles. UNEP Mediterranean Action Plan, Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas (RAC/SPA), Tunis. 48 pp. http ://www.rac spa.org Shaver, D.J. and W. G. Teas. 1999. Stranding and salvage networks, p. 152 155 In : K.L. Eckert, K.A. Bjorndal, F.A. Abreu G. and M. Donnelly (eds.), Research and Management Techniques for the Con servation of Sea Turtles. IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group Publ ication No. 4. Washington D.C. http://iucn mtsg.org/publications/techniques manu al en/ Shigenaka, G (Editor). 2003. Oil and Sea Turtles: Biology, Planning, and Response. U.S. Dep t. C ommerce NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service Washington, D.C. http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/sites/default/files/Oil_Sea_Turtles.pdf Staben au, E.K., P.F. Moon and T.A. Heming. 2001. Resuscitation of Sea Turtles. Marine Turtle News letter 62:3 5. http://www.seaturtle.org/mtn/archives/mtn62/mtn62p3b.shtml Walsh, M. 19 99. Rehabilitation of sea turtles, p.202 207. In : K.L. Eckert, K.A. Bjorndal, F.A. Abreu G. and M. Donnelly (eds.), Research and Management Techniques for the Conservation of Sea Turtles. IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group Publ ication No. 4. Washingto n D.C. http://iucn mtsg.org/publications/techniques manual en/ Witherington, B. E. and R. E. Martin. 200 3 Understanding, Assessing, and Resolving Light Pollution Problems on Sea Tu rtle Nesting Beaches. Second Edition, Revised. Florida Marine Research Institute Technical Report TR 2. Tallahassee, Florida. 73 pp. http://research.myfwc.com/engine/download_redirection_process.asp?file=tr2%5F0814%2Epdf&objid =39080&dltype=publication Wi tzell, W.N. and W.G. Teas. 1994. The impacts of anthropogenic debris on marine turtles in the western north Atlantic Ocean. NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS SEFSC 355. U.S. Department of Com merce. Miami, Florida. 2 1 pp. http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/turtles/TM_355_Witzell_Teas.pdf Work, T M. 2000. Sea Turtle Necropsy Manual for Biologists in Remote Refuges. U.S. Geological Survey Nati onal Wildlife Health Cen ter Hawai i Field Station. 25 pp. http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/publications/necropsy_manuals/index.jsp Work, T.M. and G.H. Balazs. 2002. Necropsy findings in sea turtles taken as bycatch in the North Pacific long line fishery. Fish. Bull. 100:876 880. http://fishbull.noaa.gov/1004/19workfi.pdf Wyneken, J. 2001. The Anatomy of Sea Turtles. NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS SEFSC 470 U.S. Dep t. Co mmerce, Miami. 172 pp. http://www.sefsc.noaa.gov/turtles/TM_470_Wyneken .pdf Wyneken, J. 2003. The external morphology, musculoskeletal system, and neuro anatomy of sea turtles, p.39 78. In : P.L. Lutz, J.A. Musick and J. Wyneken (eds.), The Biology of Sea Turtles Volume II. CRC Press. Boca Raton, Florida.
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 41 APPENDIX A STTRC DATA FORMS FIRST RESPONSE FORM In this appendix w list If the animal is dead, indicate that on the First Resp onse Form and attach the F orm to the completed S tranding Data Form If the animal is alive, you should use th e First Response Form, or something like it, to document the condition of the animal when you first encountered it. If the animal is released on site, indicate that on the First Response Form and submit the Form to your national STTRC Coordinator or other authority. If the animal is transported for additional care, make sure th e First Response Form accompanies the animal and that the Observer can be contacted again if necessary. STRANDING DATA FORM Database (s ee Eckert and Sammy 2005).
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 42 WIDECAST Sea Turtle Trauma Response Corps: FIRST RESPONSE DATA FORM Observer (name/ tel #) : _______ ___________________________________ ___ ___ __ ___ _ Location: _______________________________________________________ ___ ___ __ __ Date: ________ _________ ______ _____ Time: ____ ___ ___ AM PM S pecies (if known) : _________ ___________________________ Condition: LIVE DEAD Instructions : check all that apply and use the back of the form for notes. If the animal is dead attach the form to the completed STRANDING DATA FORM. If the animal is alive, use this form to document any first response action. If the animal is released on site, submit this form to your national STTRC Coordinator or other authority. If the animal is transported for additional care, make sure that this form stays with the animal (your initial observations are important to the veterinarian) and that the Observer can be contacted again if necessary Healthy The turtle lifts its head strongly when breathing. When a flipper is gently pulled, there is a strong withdrawal reaction. When placed on solid ground, the turtle attempts to make crawling movements. When the turtle is lifted, it moves as if swimmi ng and it holds its limbs and head above the plane of the ventral surface of the body. Re leased to the sea : Y ES NO Injured /Sick Mo vements are very erratic or spasmodic and non directional, appearing uncontrolled. The turtle shows a weak localized flinch response by closing its eyes w hen you lightly touch the eye or the upper eyelid with your finger. The turtle shows only a weak withdrawal, or no response, w hen a flipper is gently pulled or when light pressure is applied t o the neck. When the turtle is lifted it does not move and its limbs and head are held below the plane of the ventral (lower) surface of the body. T he re are visual signs of trauma, such as deep cuts, shell breakage, fishing g ear (line, net, hook) entanglemen t or ingestion, oil / tar contamination, or the results of blunt force. T he turtle is covered in parasites or shows signs of dehydration, e.g. sunken eyes and skin, soft shell, unnaturally thin (neck or shoulders shrunken away from the shell). Ina ctive N o response, or an undetectable response, when you lightly touch the ey e or upper eyelid with your finger. N o withdrawal reaction w hen a flipper is gently pulled or light pressure is applied t o the neck. The turtle makes n o attempt to move on solid ground. Dead The turtle does not respond to any physical stimulus. The turtle s flesh has begun to decompose ( rot ) and there is a foul odor R igor mortis is apparent.
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 43 Source : Eckert & Sammy (2005) ; f or a full size form visit http://www.wideca st.org/What/Regional/Tagging.html
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 44 STRANDING DATA FORM INSTRUCTIONS Species Enter the species: green turtle ( Chelonia mydas ), hawksbill ( Eretmochelys imbricata ), K ridley ( Lepidochelys kempii ), olive ridley ( Lepidochelys olivac ea ), loggerhead ( Caretta caretta ), or leatherback ( Dermochelys coriacea ). Gender Enter gender (male/female), if known. Note : The sex of a juvenile turtle cannot be distinguished using any external characteristics. In breeding age adults, males have a l ong, prehensile tail extending well beyond the posterior (rear) edge of the carapace. Project Date Enter the date when the turtle was found not the date when you think it may have washed Notes Time Enter the time when the turtle was found, not the time when you think it may have washed Time is entered in 12 hour format, with the designator AM or PM (e.g. 11:30 AM). Weather Weather, at the time you found the turtle, should be described as follows (choose one): Clear Overcast Rain Stormy/Strong Wind (*) Broken Clouds Unknown (*) It can be useful, when evaluating the pattern of strandings, to know whether the winds were onshore or offshore; these and other detail s can be included at the end Location Document exactly where the sea turtle washed ash ore. Include the Location Name (e.g. the name of beach), the Zone Name (zones represent geographic subsets of Location; e.g. the coastline might be divided into distinct named or numbered sections), the Latitude (enter as degrees ( ) minutes and deci mal minutes: e.g. 13 22.5672), and the Longitude (e nter as degrees ( ) minutes and decimal minutes: e.g. 102 59.4549).
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 45 Distance to Landmark Measuring from two permanent landmarks to the location of the stranding (referred to as most accurate means to determine its exact location. Accuracy can be within a few centimeters, depending on the quality of the Landmark. This can be very important later, for example if authorities want to analyze the spatial pattern of strandings along a coastline. Observers The Observers are the person(s) reporting the stranding. Please provide their full name(s) contact address including telephone number or email address for the person responsible for completing the data form. Tag Numbers Examine the turtle carefully especially the trailing edges of the front flippers and the inside edges (up near the tail) of the rear flippers for any metal or plastic tags. The tag will have an alpha numeric engraving on o ne side and a return address on the other. CAREFULLY record all information, but do not remove a tag from a live turtle. If the turtle is clearly dead, remove each tag and mail it to the return address on the tag, or submit it to a local fisheries or fo restry officer so that it can be returned to the address given. If the turtle is alive and you tag it prior to release, CAREFULLY record the new tag number(s) on the data form. Note : r efers to a Passive Integrated Transponder tag : a small inert microprocessor sealed in glass that can transmit a unique identification number to a hand held reader when the reader briefly activates the tag with a low frequency radio signal at close range (Balazs 1999 Eckert and Beggs 200 4 ). This tag is inserted under the skin and is not visible to the eye. If a PIT tag scanner is available and a PIT tag is detected, record the number here. The first tw o photos illustrate the proper placement of metal tag s on the front flipper of a young green sea turtle ( Jennifer Gray, Bermuda Sea Turtle Project ) ; however, b ecause the animal (and thus the flipper) is so small, the re is a bit too much gap between the f lipper edge and the curve of the tag T he third photo illustrates the proper placement of metal tags to the rear flipper s ( NMFS SEFSC). Physical Description Provide a physical description of the turtle in this section; for example size, weight, unusual markings, and an inventory of barnacles, leeches, etc. Size Enter the measurement (metric units) in the appropriate box.
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 46 Note is re caliper is and sufficient, as long as both lengt h and width are recorded. to to tip) refer to whether the carapace was measured to the inside of the posterior notch or to the f a rthes t tip respectively Does carapace damage or deformity affect measurement? If measurement of the length may have been affected (usually shortened) by a damaged carapace, check this box. Note : Unnatural carapace dimensions will c orrupt any subsequent population level analyses of turtle size. Weight Note : Only enter this information if the turtle was weighed, a guess is not useful. Diagnostic Injuries Enter notes descr ibing injuries or other diagnostic characteristics of the stranded turtle. In particular, make note of any injuries, scarring patterns, etc. that could be used to identify t his individual at a later time. Parasites and E pibiota Enter notes associated with parasites (e.g. leeches) or e pi biota (e.g. barnacles) found on the stranded turtle. Tag Scar Location Tag scars are the residual scars left in the flipper once a tag has been removed or has fallen out. Evaluating tag scars is always difficult, and particularly so in leatherback turtles. If the observer is trained in identifying such evidence, it can be entered here. Turtle Condition The condition of the stranded turtle should be described as follows (choose one): Alive Fresh Dead Mod erately Decomposed Very Decomposed Unknown Necropsy Report This section is used to document a necropsy, the animal equivalent of an autopsy. If a necropsy was conducted the results can be described here, or you may attach a complete necropsy report to the data form. Notes Enter any other information not included elsewhere on the data form. INDICATE WHETHER PHOTOGRAPHS WERE TAKEN, and attach these to the data form.
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 47 L iving Tags Remember that t urtles can be sue! Living T ags provide a permanent marking method, particularly for programs seeking to mark post hatchlings and small juveniles that cannot be marked using traditional tagging methods. living tissue strip removed from the plas tron and transplanted into the carapace (or vice versa ), that l eav es a permanent, identifiable light spot that grows with the animal on the contrasting surface The US National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS SFSC 20 08) i ncludes an excellent description of this technique For the purposes of this Field Guide, just remember to clearly photograph any marking that may represent a living tag. The following are some examples (photos courtesy of the Parque Xcaret Living Ta g Program, M xico ) All are g reen turtles, Chelonia mydas with the exception of the h awksbill, Eretmochelys imbricata on the lower right
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 48 APPENDIX B SPECIES IDENTIFICATION Caretta caretta : Loggerhead (Eng), Caguama (Sp), Caouanne (Fr) Adult (top) Adult (bottom) Hatchling Head Physical Characteristics Named for : Relatively large head (up to 10 inches [25 cm] in width) Length adult : Carapace (upper shell) length of 3 4 feet (ca. 1 1.2 m) Length hatchling : Carapace length of 1.7 1.8 in (ca. 44 48 mm) Weight adult : to 400 lb (ca. 1 0 0 1 8 0 kg) Color adult : Carapace is reddish brown; plas tron ( belly ) is light yellow to light brown Color h atchling : Uniform in color red brown to grey black Caribbean Reproduction/Nesting Peak nesting : May July Number of nests : On average, 3 4 per season at 1 3 1 5 day intervals Average clutch size (=eggs per nest): 100 120 eggs Incubation time : ca. 5 0 7 5 days Global Status Endangered (World Conservation Union: IUCN) ; international trade p rohibited by CITES; pro tected under the Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) to the UNEP Cartagena Convention ; protected under the Inter Am erican Convention for the Protec tion and Conservation of Sea Turtles
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 49 Chelonia mydas : Green Turtle (Eng), Tortuga verde (Sp), Tortue verte (Fr) Adult (top) Adult (bottom) Hatchling Head (*) drawings are not to scale with respect to size differences among species P h ysical Characteristics Named for : Color of body fat (tinted from a diet of seagrass) Length adult : Carapace (upper shell) le ngth of 3 4 feet (ca. 1 1.2 m) Length hatchling : Carapace length of 1.9 in (ca. 49 mm) Weight adult : to 400 lb (ca. 1 2 0 1 8 0 kg) Color adult : Carapace is mottled gray, green, brown and black; plastron (belly) is pale yellow Color hatchling : black carapace white plastron Caribbean Reproduction/Nesting Peak nesting : May September Number of nests : On average, 3 5 per season at 12 14 day intervals Average clutch size (=eggs per nest): 110 140 eggs Incubation time : 50 70 days Global Status Endangered (Worl d Conservation Union: IUCN) ; international trade p rohibited by CITES; pro tected under the Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) to the UNEP Cartagena Convention ; protected under the Inter American Convention for the Pro tection and Conservation of Sea Turtles
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 50 Dermochelys coriacea : Leatherback (Eng), Tortuga Lad (Sp), Tortue luth (Fr) Adult (top) Adult (bottom) Hatchling Head Physical Characteristics Named for : Lack of a bony carapace ( upper shell); leathery skin Length adult (female) : Carapace length of 4 .5 6 feet (ca. 1. 4 1 8 m), with 7 prominent ridges Length hatchling : Carapace length of 2.4 2.6 in (ca. 60 65 mm) Weight adult (female) : 5 50 1400 lb (ca. 2 5 0 650 kg) [males to 2000 lb (920 kg)] Color adult : Carapace and plastron (belly) both gray/black with white or pale spots Color hatchling : Carapace is black with white spots, plastron is mottled bla ck and white Caribbean Reproduction/Nesting Peak nesting : March July Number of nests : On average, 6 9 times per season at 9 11 day intervals (=eggs per nest): 80 9 0 [yolked] eggs Incubation time : 50 75 days Global Status Critical ly Endangered (World Conservation Union: IUCN) ; international trade prohibited by CITES; protected under the Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) to the UNEP Cartagena Convention ; protected under the Inter American Convention f or the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 51 Eretmochelys imbricata : Hawksbill (Eng), Tortuga Carey (Sp), Tortue imbrique (Fr) Adult (top) Adult (bottom) Hatchling Head Physical Characteristics Named for : Hawk like beak Length adult : Carapace (upper shell) length of 2 3 feet (ca. 6 0 9 0 cm) Length hatchling : Carapace length of 1.6 1.8 in (ca. 40 45 mm) Weight adult : 132 176 lb (ca. 60 80 kg) Color adult : Carapace is brown, black, and amber; Plastron (belly) is yellow Color hatchling : Uniform in color grey or brown Caribbean Reproduction/Nesting Peak nesting : April November Number of nests : On average, 4 5 times per season at 14 15 day intervals (=eggs per nest): about 160 eggs Incubation time : 50 75 days Global Status Critically Endangered (World Conservation Union: IUCN) ; i nternational trade prohibited by CITES; protected under the Protocol con cerning Speciall y Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) to the UNEP Cartagena Convention ; protected under the Inter American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 52 Lepidochelys kempii Adult (top) Adult (bottom) Hatchling Head Physical Characteristics Length adult : Carapace (upper shell) length of 2 2.5 feet (ca. 60 7 5 cm) smal lest sea turtle Length hatchling : Carapace length of 1. 6 1. 8 in (ca. 40 4 7 mm) Weight : 75 11 0 lb (ca. 35 50 kg) Color adult : Carapace is grey or black; Plastron (belly) is pale yellow (a single pore is evident in each inframarginal scute) Color hatchling : Uniform in color; grayish black. Caribbean [Gulf of Mexico] Reproduction/ Nesting Peak nesting : April July, nests only in the Gulf of Mexico Number of nests : On average, 2 3 times per season ; daytime nester (=eggs per nest): 100 1 05 eggs Incubation time : about 45 55 days Global Status Critically Endangered (World Conservation Union: IUCN) ; international trade prohibited by CITES; protected under the Protocol con cerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) to the UNEP Ca rtagena Convention ; protected under the Inter American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 53 Lepidochelys olivacea : Olive ridley (Eng), Golfina (Sp), Tortue olivtre (Fr) Adult (top) Adult (bottom) Hatchling Head Physical Characteristics Length adult : Carapace (upper shell) length of 2 2. 5 ft (ca. 6 0 7 5 cm) Length hatchling : Carapace length of 1.5 2 in (ca. 38 50 mm ) Weight : 7 5 1 1 0 lb (ca. 35 50 kg) Color adult : Carapace is dark grey/green; Plastron (belly) is yellowish white (a single pore is evident in each inframarginal scute) Color hatchling : Uniform in color, grayish black Caribbean Reproduction/Nesting Peak n esting : April August Number of nests : On average, 1 2 times per season at 17 30 da y intervals (=eggs per nest): 10 5 11 5 eggs Incubation time : about 55 days Global Status Vulnerable (World Conservation Union: IUCN) ; international t rade prohibited by CITES; pro tected under the Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) to the UNEP Cartagena Convention ; protected under the Inter American Convention for the Protec tion and Conservation of Sea Turtles
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 Page 5 4 WIDECAST 1992
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 Page 55 A PPENDIX C Transporting a Sick or Injured Sea Turtle Live Turtle Transport If you need to transport a sick or injured sea turtle, make every effort to keep the animal in the shade (that is, keep it from over heating) while waiting for the vehicle to arr ive. Pr ovide a smooth ride, do your best to keep the animal moist, and protect the animal from extremes of heat and cold. The following guidelines are intended for local ground transport, typically from the point of encounter to a rescue/rehabilitation center or veterinary clinic. They are not intended to be comprehensive with regard to shipment by air. Remember that in any international shipment will require permits including CITES permits (see http://www.cites.org/eng/resources/transport/index.shtml ). 1. Always place the sea turtle in a container (e.g. wooden crate, large cooler, animal kennel) for transport. Container dimensions should allow normal flipper position and head extension (including raising the head to breathe) ; the turtle should not be able to turn around Containers should be handled and secured during transport in an upright position ; the top should be clearly marked. Con tainers should be ventilated and pad ded (at least on the bottom) must not contain any material that could be accidentally ingested and should accommodate the fact that turtles must be kept moist T he best range of temperature for transport is between 21 C and 27 C (70 80 F) (FWS 2000). 2 Apply a very thin layer of lubricating jelly (such as KY which has the advantage of being water soluble, or Vaseline) except around the eyes, nose, and mouth and avoiding any open wounds to keep the turtle from drying out during long distance tr ansport. Note : W et towels can also be used, but then care must be taken to prevent the turtle from becoming too cold (because of evaporative cooling) Turtles covered with wet towels must not be kept in an air conditioned environment (FFWCC 2002 b ) L ive Hatchling Transport Container size for turtles should be large enough to comfortably hold the turtle, but small enough to prevent excessive motion and turning. Modified milk crates or appropriately sized buckets or coolers can be used (Higgins 2003) In the case of hatchlings: 1. Place a few inches of damp beach sand in the transport container If the sand is too dry, the young turtles may desiccate (dry out); if too wet, energy will be wasted in swimming and weak hatchlings may be unable to hold their heads above the water to breathe Never transport sea turtle s, including hatchlings, in water. 2. Avoid excessive heat or c o l d during transport : ai m for ambient nighttime temperature in you r area Check moisture levels r egularl y; moisture can be added using a fine mist from a spray bottle. Co ncerns and Warnings Make sure that containers are secured during transport such that they do not slide around or tip over
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 Page 56 APPENDIX D EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE The following facilities have veterinaria ns on staff with experience with all or most Caribbean sea turtle species, with all or most life stages (hatchlings, small oceanic stage juveniles, larger juveniles, adults), and with all or most of the conditions addresses in this field manual : including blunt trauma, entanglement, oiling and pollution, loss of limbs, and infectious disease (including fibropapillomatosis ). Urgent assistance on topics ranging from anesthesia and surgery to rehabilitation and release is available upon request. Note : Veteri narians associated with The Turtle Hospital [Marathon, Florida] and Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium [Sarasota, Florida] are likely to have the most experience with the serious condition of fibropapillomatosis The Turtle Hospital Attn: Douglas R. Ma der, MS, DVM, DABVP Consulting Veterinarian 2396 Overseas Hwy Marathon, Florida 33050 USA Tel/Fax: (305) 743 6509 Email: Turtlehosp@aol.com http://www.turtlehospital.org/ Disney's Animal Programs Attn: M. An drew Stamper, DVM, Dipl. ACZM Research Biologist/Clinical Veterinarian Department of Education and Science Walt Disney World Resorts EC Trl. W 251 2016 North Avenue of the Stars Lake Buena Vista, F lorida 32830 USA Tel: ( 407 ) 560 5576 / Fax: ( 407 ) 56 0 5750 Email: Andy.M.Stamper@ disney.com www.Environmentality.com North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine Attn: Craig A. Harms, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACZM Department of Clinical Sciences Ce nter for Marine Sciences and Technology 303 College Circle, Morehead City North Carolina 28557 USA Tel: (252) 222 6339 / Fax: (252) 222 6311 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.seaturtlehospital.org/ Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center and Gloucester Veterinary Hospital (Aquatic Animal Medicine Consultants) Attn: Robert George, DVM Head Veterinarian 717 General Booth Blvd. Virginia Beach, Vir ginia 23451 USA Tel: (804) 693 3030 / Cell: (804) 815 1917 Email: email@example.com Georgia Sea Turtle Center Attn: Terry M. Norton, DVM, Dipl. ACZM Director and Head of Veterinary Services 214 Stable Road Jekyll Is land, Georgia 31 527 USA Tel : (912) 230 9229 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.georgiaseaturtlecenter.org Loggerhead Marinelife Center Attn: Nancy Mettee, DVM Consulting Veterinarian 14200 U.S. Hwy. #1 Loggerhead Park Juno Beach Florida 33408 USA Tel: (561) 627 8280 Fax: (561) 627 8305 Email: Nmettee@marinelife.org http://marinelife.org/ University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine Attn: Mike Walsh, DVM Clinical Associate Professor Assistant Director, Aquatic Animal Health Program Large Animal Clinical Sciences 2015 SW 16th Ave (POB 100136) Gainesville, Florida 32608 USA Tel: ( 352) 294 4199 Fax: (352) 392 8289 Email: email@example.com
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 Page 57 University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine Attn: Elliot Jacobson, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACZM Professor Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences 2015 SW 16th Ave (POB 1001 26 ) Gainesville, Florida 32610 USA Tel: (352) 392 2226 Fax: (352) 392 6125 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org New England Aquarium Attn: Charles J. Innis, VMD Associate Veterinarian Central Wharf Boston, Massachusetts 02110 USA Tel: (617) 226 2151 Email: email@example.com http:// www.neaq.org Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine Attn: Kimberly Stewart, MS, DVM Coordinator St. Kitts Sea Turtle Monitoring Network P. O. Box 334, B asseterre Saint Kitts & Nevis, Eastern Caribbean Tel: (869) 465 4161 ext. 199 Cell: (869) 669 4268 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.stkittsturtles.org/www.stkittsturtles.org/W elcome.html Parque X car et Attn: Ana Cecilia Negrete, DMV Biol. Rodolfo Raigoza Figueras Responsable de Operaci n Medicina Depart a mento de Tortugas Marinas Parque X caret Km. 282 Carretera Chetumal Pto. Juarez Municipio de Solidaridad, Playa del Carmen Quintana Roo, Mx ico Tel : (984) 8715 270 266 Email: email@example.com
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 Page 58 APPENDIX E Euthanasia in Sea Turtles Sea turtles are highly adaptive. They can survive unthinkable traumas and continue to live pro ductiv e lives. Euthanasia should only be considered in the worst of cases ; for example, when an interrupted poaching event has resulted in the amputation of all four flippers or a blunt trauma renders The unique ectothermic physiology of reptiles and their ability to maintain brain function under long periods of anoxia make humane euthanasia of this group a challenge. For example, even when the cranial nerves and brain are deprived of a blood supply, c ertain reflexes such as limb withdrawal can persist for some time. instantaneous unconsciousness and rapid death without evident pain or distress, or using anesthesia Death should come without signs of panic, pain or distress; with minimum time to loss of consciousness; and under conditions that are safe for the personnel involved ( CCAC 19 9 3) Euthanasia is an option when: It is necessary to end the suffering of an animal in irreversibly poor condition, The decision can be made and the action directed by an experience d, qualified person, Essential materi als and equipment are available, T he proced ure can be carried out humanely, No rehab ilitation facility is available, and/or Rescue is impossible an d no care facility is available. The most humane and least traumatic euthanasia technique is to have a veterinarian administer a lethal dose of an anesthetic or euthanasia drug. If (and only if) a veterinarian is not available, we recommend destroying the brain by penetrating the skull i n the middle and just posterior to the eyes (see Figures 1 4 ), with a captive bolt. A penetrating capti ve bolt pistol (used to kill livestock) is an effective, but expensive, tool powered by The same result can be achieved under field conditions with a me tal rod and a hammer. Proper placement of the bolt on the head is crucial, so the animal (and particularly the head) must be either immobile or securely restrained and with the chin and neck on a hard surface (e.g. board, rock) ( NYS/CCE 2005) Be prepa red for the animal to thrash. Note : A n approach with a bolt from the top of the head can result in the fracture of the skull, often exposing brain like tissue. This is actually salt gland tissue (see Figure 4). The brain is located in a boney chamber be neath the muscles underlying the skull. To ensure complete destruction of the brain the captive bolt technique should be followed by pushed forward thro ugh the foramen magnum into the cranial cavity using a twisting motion. If the neurocranium is fractured, pithing can be performed through that opening. Note : Pithing requires
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 Page 59 considerable skill; it can be bloody and traumatic. Professionals caution tha t it should only be attempted after acquiring knowledge of anatomy using skeletons, and after a period of training including practice on dead animals, because this method can cause pain and suffering if the proper regions of the brain are not completely de stroyed (CCAC 1993). Concerns and Warnings A powerful blow, designed to penetrate the skull into the brain, is not equivalent to bludgeoning the animal to death. Nor is it appropriate to use any blunt object that happens to be at hand. Consider care fully the bolt (metal rod) that will be used, the location of its placement, and the hammer that will deliver the blow. Keep in mind that the target the brain is both small and deep within the skull. Never attempt to kill a sea turtle by freezing i t this method is ineffective and inhumane Do not de cap i ta t e a sea turtle this is not a humane o p ti o n for t urtles larger than very young juveniles E xsanguination (rapidly draining blood from the body after severing major blood vessels, usually those in the neck) is never recommended for sea turtles, nor is shooting with a n o rdina ry gun recom mended under field conditions unless the gun is in the hands of a trained and skilled shooter. Terminating a sea turtle, a protected animal in many c ountries, may carry legal consequences Always contact the authorities and make every attempt to have a veterinarian or medical technician present. Never consider euthanasia unless it is clear to all concerned that no other humane course of treatment is feasible. Animals containing administered toxic substances or drugs (including euthanasia agents) must not be disposed of in areas where they may become part of the natural food web ( HACC 2004 ). Figure 1 The skull of a green sea turtle (L), with cu taway (R) revealing the sense organs The ar row indicates the location of the brain the target for penetration of the captive bolt deep within the skull and posterior to the eyes Sources : http://www.s kulls skeletons.com (L); Wyne ken 200 1 (R) B rain
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 Page 60 Figure 3. The l ocation of the brain in sea turtles Note the spatial relationship of the brain mass to the eyes. In the leatherback, the brain is effectively targeted through on the crown of the head Source : Wyneken, 2001. Figure 4. In hard shelled sea turtles the captive bolt should be placed along the midline of the skull, posterior to the eyes. A dorsal cut away (L) reveals the brain protected by a secondary boney chambe r, presenting a comparatively long but narrow target. E ye Brain Salt Gland Secondary Bony Chamber Target area for the captive bolt C. Harms C REMA
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 Page 61 Source : e xcerpted from American Veterinary Medical Association. 2001. Report of the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia. JAVMA 218(5):669 696. http://www.avma.org/issues/animal_welfare/euthan asia.pdf WILDLIFE For wild and feral animals, many recommended means of euthanasia for captive animals are not feasible. The panel recognizes there are situations involving free ranging wildlife when euthanasia is not possible from the animal or human safety stand point, and killing may be necessary. Conditions found in the field, although more challenging than those that are c ontrolled, do not in any way reduce or minimize the ethical obligation of the responsible individual to reduce pain and distress to the greatest extent possible during the taking of an wildlife is often performed by lay personnel in remote settings, guidelines are needed to assist veterinarians, wild life biologists, and wildlife health professionals in developing humane protocols for euthanasia o f wildlife. I n the case of free ranging wildlife, personnel may not be t rained in the proper use of remote anesthesia, proper delivery equipment may not be available, personnel may be working alone in remote areas where accidental exposure to potent anesthetic medications used in wildlife capture would present a risk to human safety, or approaching the animal within a practical darting distance may not be possible. In these cases, the only practical means of animal collection may be gunshot and kill trapping. 13,180 184 Under these conditions, specific methods chosen must be as age species or taxonomic/ class specific as possible. The firearm and ammunition should be appropriate for the species and purpose. Personnel should be sufficiently skilled to be accurate, and they should be experienced in the proper and safe use of firearms, complying with laws and regulations governing their possession and use. Behavioral responses of wildlife or captive non traditional species (zoo) in close human contact are very different from those of domestic animals. These animals are usuall y frightened and dis tressed. Thus, minimizing the amount, degree, and/ or cognition of human contact during procedures that require handling is of utmost importance. Handling these animals often requires general anesthesia, which provides loss of consciou sness and which relieves distress, anxiety, apprehension, and perception of pain. Even though the animal is under general anesthesia, minimizing auditory, visual, and tactile stimulation will help ensure the most stress free euthanasia possible. With use o f general anesthesia, there are more methods for euthanasia available. A 2 stage euthanasia process involving general anesthesia, tranquilization, or use of analgesics, followed by intravenous injectable pharmaceuti cals, although preferred, is often not practical. Injectable anesthetics are not always legally or readily available to those working in nuisance animal control, and the distress to the animal induced by live capture, transport to a veterinary facility, and confinement in a veterinary hospital prior to euthanasia must be considered in choosing the most humane technique for the situation at hand. Veterinarians providing support to those working with injured or live trapped, free ranging animals should take capture, transport, handling distress, a nd possible carcass consumption into consideration when asked to assist with euthanasia. Alternatives to 2 stage euthanasia using anesthesia include a squeeze cage with intraperitoneal injec t ion of sodium pentobarbital, inhalant agents (CO2 chamber, CO chamber), and gunshot. In cases where preeuthanasia anesthetics are not available, intraperitoneal injections of sodium pentobarbital, although slower in producing loss of consciousness, should be considered preferable over intravenous injection, if restr aint will cause increased distress to the animal or danger to the operator. Wildlife speci es may be encountered under a variety of situations. Euthanasia of the same species under different conditions may require different techniques. Even in a controlle d setting, an extremely fractious large animal may threaten the safety of the practitioner, bystanders, and itself. When safety is in question and the fractious large animal, whether wild, feral, or domestic, is in close confinement, neuromuscular blocking agents may be used immediately prior to the use of an acceptable form of euthanasia. For this technique to be humane, the operator must ensure they will gain control over the animal and perform euthanasia before distress develops.
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 Page 62 AMPHIBIANS, FISH, AND REPTILES Euthanasia of ectothermic animals must take into account differences in their metabolism, respiration, and tolerance to cerebral hypoxia. In addition, it is often more difficult to ascertain when an animal is dead. Some unique aspects of euthana sia of amphibians, fishes, and reptiles have been described. 13,51,186,187 Literature Cited 13 Cooper JE, Ewbank R, Platt C, et al. Euthanasia of amphibians and reptiles London: UFAW/WSPA, 1989. 51 Humane killing of animals Preprint of 4th ed. South Mimms, Potters Bar, Herts, England: Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, 1988;16 22. 180 Acceptable field methods in mammalogy: preliminary guidelines approved by the American Society of Mammalogists. J Mammal 1987; 68(Suppl 4):1 18. 181 American use of wild birds in research. Auk 1988; 105(Suppl):1A 41A. 182 American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, Herpetologist League, Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles. Guidelines for th e use of live amphibians and reptiles in field research. J Herpetol 1987; 21(suppl 4):1 14. 183 American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, American Fisheries Society, American Institute of Fisheries Research Biologists. Guidelines for use of f ishes in field re search. Copeia Suppl 1987; 1 12. 184 Cailliet GM. Fishes: a field guide and laboratory manual on their structure, identification, and natural history Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth, 1986. 186 Zwart P, deVries HR, Cooper JE. The humane killi ng of fishes, amphibia, reptiles and birds. Tijdsehr Diergeneeskd 1989; 114:557 565. 187 Burns R. Considerations in the euthanasia of reptiles, fish and amphibians, in Proceedings AAZV, WDA, AAWV Joint Conference 1995; 243 249.
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 Page 63 APPENDIX F FIBROP APILLOMA DISEASE: WHAT TO DO WITH A FIBROPAPILLOMA BEARING SEA TURTLE Sample protocol: Bermuda Turtle Project Sea turtle fibropapilloma disease (FP) is a debilitating and sometimes fatal disease of sea turtles. It is seen most often in green turtles bu t is also known to occur in loggerheads and ridleys It is currently unknown from Bermuda. However, because so little is known about the natural routes of transmission of FP, it is best at this time to work on the assumption that it is highly communicabl e and take appropriate precautions. Researchers should make every attempt to keep the disease out of populations where it does not occur. The following protocol has been developed to reduce the possibility of fibropapilloma becoming established in Bermud a and is set forward to guide the handling of potentially infected turtle onboard the research vessel Calamus Note : There is no nesting in Bermuda; thus, sea turtles are only handled following capture during organized offshore research expeditions. Rec ognizing fibropapilloma disease : Fibropapilloma disease is most easily recognized by the external tumor like growths that it produces. These can occur on any of the soft tissues of the turtle but are most commonly seen on the softest areas of the head and neck, especially around the eyes, and at the base of the fore and hind flippers. They will appear as pea sized to grapefruit sized growths, variable in color but usually pink to red, or gray to black. They often have a floral appearance, with a surface tex ture like a head of cauliflower, but may also be smooth. These tumors are well vascularized and will bleed readily when cut or abraded by the capture net Preventing the spread of fibropapilloma disease : Healthy turtles with no evidence of the external tumor like growths can carry the virus that apparently causes FP as well as other pathogenic agents of sea turtles. Turtles can also carry a tumor burden internally, with or without any external signs of infection. Thus, we must always use extreme caution with the body fluids of the sea turtles we handle. The tagging punch must be cleared of tissue and the punch and tag applicators disinfected (for 20 minutes) with mild bleach solution after every turtle. Blood or other body fluids from one turtle should not be allowed to get on another turtle during sampling or at any other time. Do not use syringe needles or other instruments that break the skin (e.g., PIT tag applicators, tagging punch) on multiple animals without disinfecting them thoroughly between a nimals. Use of exam gloves when performing various procedures on turtles is important; it is difficult to keep your hands clean under field conditions. When gloves are not available, frequent hand wiping with sanitizing hand wipes is mandatory Note : Be aware of possible contamination to clothing or skin, and not only to hands. Capture of a papilloma bearing turtle in the entrapment net : A turtle with obvious FP should not be placed directly in the catch boat, especially with other turtles. The turtle sh ould be handle d with gloves and placed ( along with the used gloves) into the equipment bucket (removing the GPS and other equipment first) in order to isolate it from other turtles and to avoid contamination of the deck surface T he bucket should be scrub bed thoroughly with a 10% Clorox solution (for 20 minutes) and rinsed thoroughly with freshwater before being used again Turtles with obvious FP should not be taken on board Calamus or to the Aquarium. The virus that is associated with the disease may su rvive for long periods outside of the host, especially if it is kept wet
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 Page 64 or moist. Thus, thorough treatment of all possibly infected surfaces with detergents, disinfectants, or prolonged drying would be required to make certain that the disease would not be transmitted. With this in mind, all turtles suspected to be infected with FP virus should be kept away from all areas where turtles are kept, including the decks of the catch boat and Calamus and the Aquarium, its tanks, and its water system. A live turtle with FP should not be tagged, weighed or measured. It should be photo documented, appropriate samples of the tumors should be taken and preserved directly in 10% buffered formalin (1:10 tissue:formalin; maximum width of tissue is 1 cm for appropria te fixation) without being frozen, and the animal should be removed from contact with all other sea turtles and kept out of any facility that houses sea turtles. If the affected turtle has a heavy tumor burden that seems clearly to be FP and the animal is very seriously debilitated, euthanization should be considered by the government veterinarian. Samples of several tumors should be preserved in 10% buffered formalin. If the tumor burden is small or there is suspicion that the tumor is not FP, the anima l should be isolated and appropriate samples taken for assessment. If found to have FP, the diseased animal could be sent to an appropriate facility such as The Turtle Hospital in Marathon Key, Florida for further observation and possible rehabilitation It is very important to confirm any possible cases of FP. This can best be done by collecting biopsies for complete pathological evaluation. Thus, a biopsy kit with gloves, 10% buffered formalin, appropr i ate sized vials, scalpels, a small plastic ruler and Clorox for clean up, should be assembled. This could be used for taking samples from a badly infected individual after it was euthanized, a mildly affected individual that w ill remain in isolation until the samples c an be examined, or a dead strande d animal with suspicious tumors. Stranding of a papilloma bearing turtle : If a papilloma bearing turtle is dead when it strands, it should be photo documented at the stranding site. Photographs should be made of all surfaces, and a description recorded of the tumors, including measurements. If the turtle is fresh, a necropsy should be performed provided that the necropsy can be done under isolation conditions to avoid con taminating facilities where turtles are kept. If a complete necropsy cannot be perf ormed, then a sample of the suspect tumor should be preserved in formalin for pathologic evaluation and the carcass disposed of (incinerated or buried on land). Even if the carcass is too poor to necropsy, get a sample of suspect tissue and dispose of the rest. Any time that a suspect turtle is handled, all equipment used during handling and necropsy should be disinfected with 10% Clorox (for 20 minutes) and rinsed thoroughly in freshwater before being returned to the Aquarium. Gloves must be worn at all times. Do not transport the carcass using Aquarium vehicles and do not transport to the Aquarium for necropsy or freezing. If a papilloma bearing turtle strands alive, isolate it in a suitable sized container at an appropriate location and take biopsies of suspect tissue for evaluation. The turtle should remain in isolation until the evaluation of the biopsy is complete. Based on the biopsies and the extent of any infection, a decision will be made as to whether the turtle should be euthanized or sent t o an outside facility for rehabilitation. ______________ Source : modified from Meylan, P., A. Meylan and J. Gray. 2003. Procedures Manual for the Bermuda Turtle Project. Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo. 37 pp. Used with permission.
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 Page 65 Author notes : Th e Bermuda protocol is cautious and has been written for an area that does not have FP present; but, if the disease is already documented in the local area, there are options other than e uthanasia. The se turtles can be treated and cared for, but every effort should be made to create a containment area completely separate from other turtles, whether healthy resident turtles or other sea turtles undergoing periods of rehabilitation. The most important thing, as noted above, is not to use shared water (or any thing else) meaning that every effort should be made to maintain a separate water supply and filtration system and, ideally, separate personnel. The only persons dealing with both groups of turtles should be the veterinary staff, and every effort should be made to separate those as much as possible. For example, routine procedures at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, a Florida based sea turtle rescue center designated to care for FP turtles, require that once a veterinary staff member has handled an F P turtle, s/he will not handle a non FP turtle for at least 72 hours (i n practice, this means that the designated veterinarian handles an FP turtle just before beginning a weekend off ) Also important are the following: gloves are mandatory for veterinary staff when handling FP turtles; all laundry, water supply, and equipment are entirely separate between FP and non FP turtles; and everything is disinfected with 10% bleach solution (and rinsed thoroughly with fresh water) after having been exposed to FP t urtles. At the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach, Florida, plastic bins and other plastic materials used with FP turtles are disposed of, as plastic is porous and, therefore, unsterilizable. Experience in Florida with rehabilitation suggests that all FP turtles under going rehabilitation should remain at the rehabilitation facility for a period of one year following removal of the last tumor to insure that re growth does not take place. While there are no documented cases of water borne transmis sion of FP, or transmission resulting from direct contact with an infected animal, we recommend that until researchers have a better under standing of this oft fatal disease, for which there is no known cure, strict precautions be emphasized at all levels. One strategy is to always work on non afflicted turtles first, then FP turtles followed by decontamination. Advice from the facilities most active in the treatment and care of FP turtles in the Wider Caribbean Region is available from the following: T he Turtle Hospital Attn: Douglas R. Mader, DVM Consulting Veterinarian 2396 Overseas Hwy Marathon, Florida 33050 USA Tel/Fax: (305) 743 6509 Email: Turtlehosp@aol.com http://www.turtlehospital.org/ Mote Marin e Laboratory and Aquarium Attn: M. Andrew Stamper, DVM, Dipl. ACZM Consulting Veterinarian 1600 Ken Thompson Pkwy Sarasota, Florida 34236 USA Tel: (941) 388 4441 x458 Fax: (941) 388 4512 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org http: //www.mote.org Loggerhead Marinelife Center Attn: Nancy Mettee, DVM Consulting Veterinarian 14200 U.S. Hwy. #1 Loggerhead Park Juno Beach Florida 33408 USA Tel: (561) 627 8280 Fax: (561) 627 8305 Email: Nme email@example.com http://marinelife.org/
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 Page 66 APPENDIX G U.S. NOAA/NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE CAReful Handling and Release protocols f O r hooked or entangled sea turtles Source : excerpted from McNaughton, L. 2004. Protected Species Handling Guide. Prepared by JIMAR (University of Hawai i) for NOAA / NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Office, Honolulu U.S. Department of Commerce.
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 Page 67
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 Page 68
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 Page 69
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 Page 70 NOTES
Phelan & Eckert (200 6 ) ~ Field Guide to Sea Turtle Strandings and Injuries ~ WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4 Page 71 NOTES
of the Wider Caribbean Region, human and sea turtle The Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST) is a volunteer expert network and Partn ment Programme. WIDECAST was founded in 1981 in response to a recommendation by the IUCN/CCA Meeting of Non Governmental Caribbean Organizations on Living Resources Conservation for Sus tainable Development in the Wider Caribbean (Santo Domingo, 26 29 chieving a regional recovery action plan has focused on bringing the best available science to bear on sea turtle management and conservation, empowering people to make effective use of that science in the policy making process, and providing a mechanism a nd a framework for cooperation within and among nations. By involving stakeholders at all levels and encouraging policy oriented research, WIDECAST puts science to practical use in conserving biodiversity and advocates for grassroots involvement in decisi on making and project leadership Emphasizing initiatives that s trengthen capacity within participating countries and institutions the network d evelop s and replicates pilot projects, provide s technical assistance, enables coor dination in the collectio n, sharing and use of information and d ata and promote s strong linkages between science, policy, and public participation in the design and implementation of conser vation actions. W orking closely with local communities and resource managers, the network has also developed standard management guidelines and criteria that emphasize best practices and sustainability, ensuring that current utilization practices, whether consumptive or non consumptive, do not undermine sea turt le survival over the long term. With Country Coordinators in more than 40 Caribbean States and territories, WIDECAST is uniquely able to f acilitat e complementary conservation action across range S tates, strengthen ing and harmonizing legislation, encouraging community involvement, and r aising public As a result most Caribbean nations have adopted a national sea turtle management plan, poaching and illegal product sales have been reduced or eliminat ed at key sites, many of largest breeding colonies are monitored on an annual basis, alternative livelihood models are increasingly available for rural areas, and citizens are mobilized in support of conservation action You can j oin us! Vis it www.widecast.org for more information. WWW.WIDECAST.ORG
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