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Marine Turtle Trauma Response Procedures: A Husbandry Manual Michelle G. Pasquin (c) 1998. Bermuda Aquarium Museum & Zoo Prepared by the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST) Jessie E. Bluvias and Karen L. Eckert WIDECAST Tech nical Report No. 10 20 1 0
For bibliographic purposes, this document should be cited as: Bluvias, Jessie E. and Karen L. Eckert 20 1 0 Marine Turtle Trauma Response Pro cedures: A Husbandry Manual. Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Netw ork (WIDECAST) Technical Report No. 1 0 B allwin, Missouri 10 0 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 USA Phone: + (31 4) 954 8571 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Online at www.widecast.org Generously supported by: The Beverly Foundation
Marine Turtle Trauma Response Procedures: A Husbandry Manual Jessie E. Bluvias, MEM Project Officer, WIDECAST Karen L. Eckert, Ph.D. Executive Director, WIDECAST 20 1 0
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 1 P REFACE AND I NTENT For three decades the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST), with Country Coordinators in more than 40 Caribbean nations and territo ries, has linked scientists, conservation ists, resource managers, resource users, policy makers, industry groups, educators and other stake holders 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. A s a Partner Organization of the UNEP Caribbean Environment Programme and its Regional Pro gramme for Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW), WIDECAST i s designed to address re search and management priorities at national and regional levels, both fo r sea turtles and for the habi tats upon which they depend. We focus on bringing the best available science to bear on contem porary management and conservation issues, empowering stakeholders to make effective use of that science in the policy making pro cess, and providing a n operational mechanism and a framework for 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 lo ng term. Among these capacity building initiatives is WIDECAST Sea 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 turt les 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 STTRC initiative include s the development of standard guidelines and criteria, repor ting forms database management software and training for field staff and volunteers, natural resource managers, veterinarians, and animal rescue practitioners. it became clear that procedures and strate gies were also needed to guide necessary efforts to provide adequate housing and care f or sea turtles requiring a period of supervised rehabilitation after experiencing the effects of physical trauma or environmental stressors. Through literature research and extensive peer review, we have summarized best practices related to human health and safety, sea turtle handling and transport, facilities design and require ments ( maintaining turtles in and out of water, lighting and photoperiod, temperature control, life sup port systems, water system set up, water quality testing, sa nitization ) diet and feeding, enrichment, emergency procedures, and release. Appendices provide a species identification guide, documen ta tion forms, various plans and diagrams (sea tu rtle stretcher, tank dividers, water system s), recipes, quarantine pro tocols and euthanasia It is the first resource of its kind. Nothing in this manual should be construed as an endorsement of keeping sea turtles in captivity un necessarily, or for r easons of profiteering. Nor do we suggest that every Caribbean nation invest in a professional rescue or rehabilitation facility. We do, however, believe that when good can be done for a sick or injured animal, it is important that the actions taken are in line with professional and humane practices. the information provided here in increases the probability that a sick or i njured turtle will be given a second cha nce to resume a normal life in the wild. Karen L. Eckert Ph.D. Executive Director WIDECAST
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 2 A CKNOWLEDGEMENTS F or contributing their time, assistance, and expert guidance in the early development of these stand ards the author s are very grateful to Er ic Anderson, Lynne Byrd, Petra Cunningham Smith, Charl e s Manire, Kelly Martin, Molly Pastorello, Renee Romanowski and David Smith of Mote Marine Lab ora tory ; Caitlin Cisek and Kelly Thorvalson of the South Carolina Aquarium (SCA) ; Robert George, Tracy Hea rd Mark Swingle and the Fishes Dep ar t ment at the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Cen ter (VAMSC) ; Wendy Walton and the Stranding Response Team of the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program; the staff of the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knol l Shores ; Michelle Bauer of the Volusia County Marine Science Center; Rhema Bjorkland of Duke Conservation in Beaufort, North Carolina ; and Jeanette Wyneken of Florida Atlantic University. The document benefited significant ly from a thorough peer review by Jean Beasley (Director, Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, USA), Flegra Bentivegna (Curator, Naples Aquarium, Italy), Shane Boylan, DVM ( Veterinarian S outh Carolina Aquarium USA ), C laire Cayol, DV M ( Veterinarian, DIREN, Martinique, French West Indies), Scott Eckert, Ph.D. (Research Scientist, Duke University), Beth Firchau (Curator of Fishes, VAMSC), Robert George, DVM (Head Veterin arian, VAMSC), Hedelvy Guada (CICTMAR, Venezuela), Craig Harms, DV M (N orth Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, USA), Julia Horrocks, Ph.D. ( Director, Barbados Sea Turtle Project ; Professor, University of the West Indies) Michelle Kaylor ( Rehabilitation Coordinator, G eorgia Sea Turtle Center USA ), Frdric Leveque, DVM ( Veterinarian, l'Aquarium de Guadeloupe French West Indies ), C arl Lloyd (Ocean Spirits, Grenada), Charles Manire, DVM (Veterinarian, Mote Marine Laboratory, USA, and Atlantis Paradise Island Bahamas), Nancy Mettee, DVM (Loggerhead M arine Life Center, USA), Terry Norton, DVM ( Director, Georgia Sea Turtle Center, USA), Maria Luz Parga, DVM ( Veterinarian, SUBMON Spain), Michelle Sattler ( Collections Supervisor, John G. Shedd Aquarium, USA), Lory Scott (Old Dominion University USA ) An drew Stamper, DVM (Veterinarian, Mote Marine Laboratory, USA), Mark Swingle (Director Research and Conservation, VAMSC ) Lesley Stokes and Wendy Teas (NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center ), Kelly Thorvalson ( Manager Sea Turtle Rescue Program, SCA ) Je anette Wyneken, Ph.D. (Florida Atlantic Univ ersity USA) and Stuart Wynne (Department of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Anguilla) Edward Lockhart a nd Michele Lamping ( North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores ) created the holding environment diagram s and Michele Lamping c o authored Section V : Holding Environment Lisa Wright (VAMSC) contributed her knowledge on creating tank dividers. Stuart May (North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores ), Barbara Bergwerf and Kelly Thorvalson (SCA), Kelly Marti n and Renee Romanowski (Mote Marine Laboratory), and Mark Swingle ( VAMSC ) among others, kindly donated photographs and other illustrations r esearch and summer internships in 2007 2008 would not have been possible without a grant f Environmental Internship Fund ( Duke University ) and the kindness of those who provided me with local housing : Deb and Rick LaStella in Bradenton, Florida; Diane Lauritsen in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina; and Maylon and Charlotte White in Virginia B each, Virginia. Major f unding for the development, peer review and printing of th is M anual was provided by the WIDECAST network ( http://www.widecast.org ) The Beverly Foundat ion, Atlantis Paradise Island ( http://www.atlantis.com/ ), Humane Society International ( http://www.hsi.org/ ), and the P egasus Foundation ( http://www.pegasusfoundation.org/ ) Finally, I gratefully acknowledge D r. Karen Eckert for introducing me to this project, advising me along the way, and giving me endless support and enthusiastic encouragement ; James for his patience and encou ragement ; and my friends and family for their constant love and support t hank you all for believing in m e and for being a part of my journey A s I promised years ago this one is dedicated to you, Mom with love
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 3 T ABLE OF C ONTENTS Preface and Intent 1 Acknowledgements 2 Table of Contents 3 Summaries and Checklists 6 I. Overview 7 WIDECAST Sea Turtle Trauma Response Corps (STTRC) 8 Cautionary Remarks 9 Want to Know More? 10 Int ernet Resources to Inform and Guide Husbandry Efforts 10 Internet Links to Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation F acilities 1 1 II. The Essentials 1 2 Human Health and Safety 1 2 Staff Qualifications and Responsibilities 1 2 Fa cility Requirements and Supplies 1 3 Record Keeping and Documentation 1 3 Sea Turtle Anatomy Guide 1 4 III. Handling and Transport 1 5 Procedures and Advice : Handling a Live Turtle 1 5 Retrieve 1 5 Restrain 1 6 Comfort 1 6 Ret urn 1 6 Procedures and Advice : Transport ing a Live Turtle 1 7 Air Transport 1 7 IV. Admitting a Patient 1 8 Assessment and Documentation 1 8 Therapeutics 1 8 A Note about Emergency Care 1 9 Published Drug Dosing Studies in Sea Turtles 20 A Note about Leatherback Turtles 2 1 V. Holding Environment 2 2 Facility 2 2 Maintaining Turtles in Water 2 2 Considerations 2 2 Materials 2 3 Separation 2 3 Summary of Holding Tank Requirements 2 4 Maintaining Turtles out of Water 2 5 Basic Set Up 2 5 Advanced Set Up 2 5 Lighting and Photoperiod 2 6 Outdo or Faci lities 2 6 Indoor Facilities 2 6
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 4 Temperature Control 2 7 Surface Area and Volume 2 7 Water Temperature 2 7 Air Temperature 2 7 Spray Bars 2 7 Chillers and Heaters 2 8 L ife Support Systems 2 8 Pumps and Basic Plumbing 2 8 Filters 2 9 Sterilizers 3 1 Water System Set up 3 3 Open, or Flow through System 3 3 Semi open System 3 4 Closed System 3 4 Water Quality Testing 3 5 Temperature 3 5 Salinity 3 5 pH 3 5 Chlorine 3 5 Sanitization 3 6 Water Changes 3 6 Cleaning Utensils 3 6 Discharging Waste Water 3 6 Summary of Water Quality Standards 3 7 V I Diet 3 8 Food Selection 3 8 Food Quantity 3 8 Food Storage and Preparation 3 9 Summary of Food Selection and Preparation 40 Feeding Techniques and Tips 40 Free Feeding 40 Assisted Feeding 40 Tube Feeding 4 1 Oral Medications/Vitamins 4 3 Other Tips 4 3 V I I. Enrichment 4 4 Food Items 4 4 Live Food 4 4 Ice Blocks 4 4 Drilled Pipes 4 4 Feeding Mat 4 4 Non food Items 4 5 Rocks 4 5 Waterfalls 4 5 Refugia (Hiding Places) 4 5 Back Scratcher 4 5
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 5 Photo by Jessie Bluvias V I II. Release 4 6 Final Asses sment and Clearance 4 6 Tagging 4 7 Flipper Tags 4 7 PIT Tags 4 9 IX Hatchling Husbandry 5 2 Temporary Holding of Healthy Hatchlings 5 2 Ho lding Environment for Sick o r Injured Hatchlings 5 3 Identificati o n Marking 5 4 Diet 5 4 Release 5 4 X. Emergency Preparations and Procedures 5 6 XI. Mortality and Necropsy 5 7 Euthanasia 5 7 Necropsy 5 7 X I I. Literature Cited 5 9 Appendix A: Speci es Identification 6 6 Appendix B: Sample Documentation Forms 7 3 Appendix C: Customized Turtle Stretcher 8 2 Appendix D : Tank Dividers 8 4 Appendix E : Advanced Dry Dock Setup 8 5 Appendix F : Water System Diagrams 8 6 Appendix G : Food Guid e 8 8 Appendix H : Quarantine 9 3 Appendix I: Euthanasia in Sea Turtles 9 6
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 6 S UMMARIES AND C HECK L ISTS Internet Resources to Inform and Guide Husbandry Efforts 10 Internet Links to Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Facilities 11 Situations Requiring Handling 15 Published Drug Dosing Studies in Sea Turtles 20 Summary of Holding Tank Requirements 24 Summary of Water Quality Standards 37 Summary of Food and Feeding 40 Checklist: Procedures for Tube Feeding a Sea Turtle 42 Checklist: Final Assessment and Clearance for Release 46 Checklist: Equipment and Precautions for Emergency Situations 56 Sea Turtle Necropsy Manuals and Related Resources 58 Photos (clockwise): South Carolina Aquarium ; WIDECAST ; Nature Foundation of Sint Maarten ; Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 7 I. O VERVIEW Phelan and Eckert (2006) es tablished basic guidelines and procedures for responding to sea turtles affected by a variety of natural (e.g. predator attacks, mating wounds, parasite infestations) and man induced (e.g. boat strikes, entanglement and hooking, oil contamination, trash ingestion) traumas. In some cases the animal could be released; for example afte r having been cleansed of oil or released from an entanglement. In other cases the recommendation was to transport the animal to a rescue/ rehabilitation center or willing veterinarian for observation and/or treatment. The purpose of a rescue/rehabilitat ion center is to provide both immediate and longer term care to sick and /or injured animals. The expected outcome is always that the animal will be returned to the sea as soon as practicable, enabling it to fulfill its ecological role s Wildlife rehabili tation is sometimes ridiculed as a waste of time by numerically minded conservationists who may view the effort as incon sequential in the larger scheme of things but for endangered and threatened species including six species of Caribbean sea turtle ( se e Appendix A : Species Identification ) every individual especially of (or close to) breeding age, released back to the wild is another step toward species survival Even when present ing severely infected injuries and /or shock wild animal s appear to de monstrate a great capacity to cope with these injuries and will often recover if given the necessary supportive treatment (Stocker, 2005). Notwithstanding, b ringing a sea turtle into captivity, even for a short time, should be done only when absolutely ne cessary Captivity requires special considerations with regard to the physical plant (e.g., access to running sea w ater, large animal capacity), human resources (e.g., attendants will require a knowledge of reptile medicine and care), and the law (e.g. se a turtles are protected in most Caribbean countries and their handling and care may require a special permit). Sick and injured sea turtles requ ire special medical attention. Never bring a sea turtle home with the intentio n of caring for i t yourself. In every Caribbean country it is illegal to capture, transport, and/or possess a sea turtle during a legally enforced closed season, which for most countries is year around. Subjected to undue stress and w ithout proper attention to the ir specific husbandr y needs, the condi tion of a sick or injured sea turtle may worsen rather than improve. For example, incorrect intake of calcium and phosphorous and certain single food diets can cause metabolic bone disease and iron deficiency, respectively (George, 1997 ); overfeeding can contribute to intestinal blockages floating or bloating problems (Higgins, 2003) ; and inappropriate food items can contribute to parasitic infections (George, 1997). Physical plant issues can also compromise proper nutrition. A lack o f UV light exposure may c ontribute to vitamin D deficiency, limiting the amount of calcium uptake in the intes tines (Norton, 2005a; George, 1997). Turtles housed together are vulnerable to aggression, injuries related to aggression, and the spread of dis ease, any or all of which can decrease appetite or the ability to eat (George, 1997; Higgins, 2003). Finally, i f the holding facility is poorly designed and maintained, foreign objects can be swallowed or cause physical trauma, and poor water quality can cause eye irritations, all of which can contribute to malnutrition (George, 1997; Higgins, 2003). Non nutritional related disorders can also be acquired in captivity and are directly related to common husbandry errors and facility design. Flow through open water systems and closed systems can intro duce or amplify bacteria, fungi, viral diseases, and parasites if water quality is not properly main tained. Constant high water temperatures can facilitate an outbreak of g r ey patch disease by degrad ing th ( Haines and Keese, 1977 ), and prolonged periods out of water can result in carapace drying and scute pe e ling, creating a canvas for bacteria and fung i (Higgins, 2003). Turtles housed together can develop injuries (eye infections, skin lesions) from aggression or induce
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 8 stress between individuals, exacerbating their vulnerability to infection (George, 1997; Higgins, 2003). General contact between turtles and the sharing of water systems can also aid in spreading disease. The numb er and variety of disorders and other problems that can occur in a disorganized or unman aged environment can significantly hinder the ability of staff to properly rehabilitate and release sea turtles back into the wild. Therefore, correct measures must b e taken to ensure the best overall prac tices and management, including record keeping and documentation. With all of this in mind, the purpose of this Husbandry M anual is to offer basic guidelines and procedures for individuals who rehabilitate sick and injured sea turtles. The guidelines are also useful when caring for sea turtles retained at facilities permitted to house them for educational display. Designed to address the needs of sea turtles suffering from the effects of physical trauma or environ mental stressors, the following sections will help prevent common problems associated with rehabilita tion by providing guidance on handling and transport, facilities requirements, diet and feeding, enrich ment, emergency procedures, and release. Appendic es provide a species identification guide, docu mentation forms, water system diagrams, recipes, and quarantine pro tocols Written for lay and pro fessional audiences i t is the first such resource in the Wider Caribbean Region, and is intended to meet the needs of the Sea Turtle Trauma Response Corps organized by the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST). WIDECAST Sea Turtle Trauma Response Corps (STTR C) 1 WIDECAST with Country Coordinators in more than 40 States and territories, i s uniquely designed to address national and regional research, conservation, and management priorities, both for sea turtles and for the variety of habitats u pon which they depend. One such priority is to reduce the negative consequences of human interact ions with sea turtles, as well as to facilitate the rescue and rehabilita tion of injured and traumatized turtles. Delegates from more than 30 Caribbean States and territories unanimously agreed at the 2004 An nual General Meeting (AGM) of WIDECAST that a 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 t he STTRC would embrace interested sea turtle project staff and volunteers; veterinarians; zoo and aquaria personnel; and natural resource managers. Specifically, the AGM rec ommended that each WIDECAST Country Coordinator 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 In turn, ea ch National STTRC Coordinator is tasked with identify ing (i) local experts and relevant facilities, equipment and resources to contribute to the national TRN ; (ii) a mechanism (such as an e newsletter or list serv e ) to keep TRN members informed of current events, resources training, etc. ; (iii) a sp onsor for a 24 to invite citizen reports and to encourage and facilitate emergency assistance ; and (iv) a Lead Organization to inventory data related to s tranding events. E ach National STTRC Coordina tor ensure s that the TRN operates in full compliance with national permit requirements relative to conducting necropsies, collecting and storing tissue samples, holding sea turtles captive for the purposes of rehabilitation, and so on 1 This section was adapted
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 9 WIDECAST maintain s a website ( http://www.widecast.org/What/Regional/Medicine.html ) featur ing a r oster of N ational STTRC Coordinators and other experts and rehabilitation centers located in the Caribbean re gion, including the US ; documentation, such as this Husbandry Manual, of standard guidelines and procedures ; data forms and reporting protocols; training opportun ities and internships; and other relevant contacts and resources. N etwork ing among rescue and rehabilitation personnel is important, and WI DECAST offers training opportunities and peer exchanges designed to build capa city (e.g., stranding response procedures, standardized data collection and analysis, necropsy tech niques, animal transport guidel ines, and sample and tissue collection, analysis, inventory and storage) among veterinarians caregivers and project directors MARVET ( http://www.marvet.org/ ), SeaVet ( http://conference.ifas.ufl.edu/ame/seaveti/ ), and AquaVet ( http://www.vet.cornell.edu/aquavet/ ) offer professional training in aquatic veterinary medicine Cautionary Remarks Nothing in this manual should be construed as an endorsement of keeping endangered sea turtles in captivity unnecessarily, or for reasons of profite ering. Nor do we suggest that every Caribbean nation invest in a professional sea turtle rehabilitation facility. We do, however, want to emphasize that when good can be done for a sick or injured animal, it is important that the actions taken are in line with pro fessional and humane practices. It is also important to recognize when the illness or injury is beyond the skill of local caregivers, in which case the difficult decision to release the animal to its fate or to euthanize it should be considered. The rehabilitation process is both difficult and time consuming, but also very rewarding. The survival of every en vided here in increases the probability that a sick or i njured sea turtle will be given a second chance to resume a normal life in the wild. Even without the professional capacity of the rescue centers pictured here in Italy ( 1 ), the US A ( 2 ), and Costa Rica (3) no sea turtle should ever be kept in the unfortunate (but all too common) condition of a f ilthy, crowded enclosure without access to the simple nec essi ties of clean water, shade, an adequate diet, and medical attention. The infor mation in this Husbandry Manual is de signed to empower local caregivers to innovate s imple, clean amenities that meet the need at an appropriate scale. Photos by (1) F. Bentivegna, Naples Aquarium; (2) The Turtle Hospital, Marathon Key, Florida; (3) D. Chacn, WIDECAST. (1) (3 ) (2 ) (2 )
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 10 Want to Know More? In developing this Husbandry M anual the author s have drawn on the cumulative expertise of the pub lished literature, personal interviews with rehabilitation experts, veterinarians and other profes s ionals and extensive peer review. The Internet is also a useful source of infor mation (see below); for com plete bibliographic references for these and other cited material s, see Sect ion XII: Literat ure Cited I NTERNET R ESOURCES TO I NFORM & G UIDE H USBANDRY E FFORTS American Zoo & Aquarium Association (AZA) Nutrition Advisory Group Feeding Program Guidelines (Bernard and Allen, 2002) : http://www.nagonline.net/Feeding%20Guidelines/feeding_guidelines.htm and Technical Papers: http://www.nagonline.net/Technical%20Papers/t echnical_papers.htm Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission Marine 200 7 a ): http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/managed/sea turtles/conservation guidelines/ S e ction IV : Holding Marine Turtles in C aptivity http://iucn mtsg.org/publications/tec hniques manual en/ Taxonomy, external morphology, and species identification (Pritchard & Mortimer) Factors to consider in the tagging of sea turtles (Balazs) Techniques for measuring sea turtles (Bolten) Strandin g and salvage networks (Shaver & Teas) Rehabilitation of sea turtles (Walsh) Infectious diseases of marine turtles (Herbst) Herpetological Animal Care and Use Committee (HACC 2004 ) Guidelines for the U se of L ive A m phibians and R ept iles in F ield and La boratory R esearch, second edition. American Society of Ichthy ologists and Herpetologists: http://www.asih.org/files/hacc final.pdf nes to Improve the Involvement of Marine Rescue Cent e rs 2004): http://www.rac spa.org/sites/default/files/doc_turtles/glrs.pdf University of Flo http://www.vetmed.ufl.edu/college/departments/sacs/research/SeaTurtleBiopsyandNecropsyTec hniqu es.html US NOAA NMFS http://courses.science.fau.edu/~jwyneken/sta/ US NOAA National Ocean Service & Sea Turtles: Biology, Planni ng , 2003): http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/book_shelf/35_turtle_complete.pdf WIDECAST & Beggs, 2006): http://www.widecast.org/Resources/Docs/Phelan_and_Eckert_2006_Sea_Turtle_Trauma_Response_ Field_Guide. pdf
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 11 I NTERNET L INKS FOR S EA T URTLE R ESCUE & R EHABILITATION F ACILITIES Clearw ater Marine Aquarium (USA) : http://www.seewinter.com/what we do/rescue rehab release Fundacin para la conservacin y Recuperacin de Animales Marinos ( Spain) : http://www.cram.org Georgia Sea Turtle Center (U SA) : http://www.georgiaseaturtlecenter.org Gumbo Limbo N ature Center (USA): http://www.gumbolimbo.org/Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center (USA) : http://www.seaturtlehospital.org/ Loggerhead Marine L ife Center (USA) : http://www.marinelife.org/hospital Marine Animal Rescue Program, New England Aquarium (USA): http://www.neaq.org/conservation_and_research/projects/conservation_medicine/rescue_and_rehabili tation/index.php Mote Marine Lab Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital (USA) : http://www.mote.org/seaturtlehospital Programa para la Rehabilitacin de Tortugas Marinas (Uruguay): http://www.karumbe.org/ Sea Turtle, Inc. (USA) : http://www.seaturtleinc.org/ Sea Turtle Rescue Center (Greece): http://www.archelon.gr/eng/pedio_rescue.php?row=row5 Sea Turtle Rescue Cen t e r of the Stazione Zoologica (Italy): http://www.szn.it South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program (USA) : http://www.scaquarium.org/STR/ The Turtle Hospital (USA ) : http://www.turtlehospital.org/index.htm Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Center (USA): http://www.virginiaaquarium.com/research conservation/Pages/stranding response program.aspx Volusia County Marine Science Center (USA): http://echotourism.com/msc/msc3.htm As a result o f the vigilance and caring of fishers who reported this injured hawksbill, and the efforts of a veterinarian guided by earl ier drafts of this Husbandry Manual, Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire (STCB) was able to rescue, rehabilitate and release th is turtle. Photos S TCB
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 12 II. T HE E SSENTIALS Human Health and Safety 2 Responding promptly, compassionately and appropriately to an injured sea turtle is important, and in t said, it is equally important to remember that r esponding to an injured animal carries risk. A rescue worker 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. S ea turtles, particularly critically ill sea turtles, can harbor a variety of bacteria, viruses and parasites ( e.g., Norton, 2005a; Santoro et al., 2006 ) Care should always be taken to minimize all categories of risk, both to the alread y traumatized turtle and to the rescue workers. The following preventive measures are recommended by Geraci and Lounsbury (1993) for persons handling marine mammals and should be applied to sea turtles : Wear latex or nitrile gloves 3 when handling sea turtles, carca sses, tissues or fluids Wear waterproof outerwear to protect clothing from contamination Cover surface wounds with protective dressings Wash exposed skin and clothing after handling sea turtles Seek medical attention for bites, cuts and other injuries, an d inform medical attendants of the Staff Qualifications and Responsibilities Rehabilitation Specialist : Persons involved in the rehabilitation of sick or injured sea turtles must be licensed with a n appropriate permit that allows them to house, feed, and/or medically treat the animals under their care. Veterinarian : A licensed veterinarian should be either on staff or on call to conduct initial health assessments and weekly (or other regular) exams to monitor progress, condition, diet, a nd medica tions; respond to medical emergencies; and oversee a final screening prior to release Life Support Technician : A technician or maintenance expert either on staff or on call must have pro per knowledge and capabilities to monitor, maintain, and repair the physical plant, including any life support equipment. General R equirements : Rehabilitation requires handling turtles for procedures, medication monitor ing, food preparation and feeding, tank cleaning, etc. Staff members should be physi cally capable of lifting and restraining adult turtles weighing several hundred pounds, and should be dedicated to the time and attention required to care for the animal on a 24 hour basis. Patience is essential as health progress and stability may require several days, months or longer. 2 This section (as well as the Sea Turtle Anatomy Guide on the next page) was excerpted from Phelan and Eckert (2006): Marine Turtle Trauma Response Procedures: A Field Guide 3 Wearing gloves reduces the risk of disease transfer and protects both the h andler and the turtle The normal gram positive fauna of humans is a potential threat to sea turtle health ; l ikewise, normal gram negative fauna of sea turtles is a zoonotic concern for the handler I f gloves are not w o rn, h ands should be washed thoroughl y before and after handling a sea turtle.
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 13 Always document and retain food and medical records Facility Requirements and Supplies The success of the rehabilitation effort, like any medical care initiative, requires clean water, adequate supplies, trained staff, and proper equipment. The physical plant need not be t echnologically ad vanced nor expensive to construct or maintain, but it must be located with care (e.g. near a clean water source and preferably near the sea) and it must be easily accessible by technical and security personnel, and other professional par tners (e.g. veterinarians, mechanics). In addition, the facility should: Operate with proper legal authority with respect to animal care/veterinary procedures, opera tional inspections (e.g. water quality, medical waste), and endangered species permi ts Have the capacity to access (or make) and maintain running saltwater for use and storage Provide adequate shade and/or shelter, whether it be indoors or outdoors Provide adequate holding tanks, including treatment and convalescent (recovery) pools Have access to a surgical site, basic radiology equipment (including processor), and a diag nostic laboratory for blood, biopsy, and fecal samples Conduct routine water quality tests, or have access to a testing facility Designate a kitchen or similarly suitabl e clean, sanitized area for food preparation and storage Guarantee access to high quality food, whether fresh frozen, or processed Develop animal transport and handling protocols Maintain an i nventory of necessary equipment and supplies for food storage, preparation and feeding, animal holding and transport, water quality testing and maintenance, basic medical care, measuring and weighing (scales, calipers, rulers, flexible tapes) and so on Maintain a supply of clean towels, and disinfecting and cleaning supplies Provide and maintain appropriate life support equipment including pumps, filters, plumbing and tanks associated with a proper water holding system Establish procedures for emergency preparation and response Record Keeping and Documentation D encounter to death or successful release. Always r ecord complete con ta ct information for the person(s) who first encountered or reported the animal. Basic record keeping forms (see A ppendix B : Sample Docu mentation Forms ) include first encounter forms, medical records (med i cines prescribed and dispensed veterinary charts ), feeding logs tank maintenance and water quality records and final release forms. Accompanying photographs ar e always helpful. A n organized rela tional database is an essential component of profes sional animal care, as well as an invalu a ble refer ence for future cases and a basis for communication among c aregivers P hoto credit : All uncredited photos were ta ken by the senior author. All photos credited to the South North Carolina Aquarium a t NCA the All photos credited to the Loggerhead L All photos credited to the Virginia Aquarium and Marine S cience Center Foundation in Virginia Beach, Other s : Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage (ONCF S); National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 14 Vertebral and costal carapace scutes on green sea turtle hatchlings, S. Stapleton WIDECAST Sea Turtle An atomy Guide The identification of sea turtles to species (see Appendix A ) relies on a combination of factors, mainly the scute pattern on the carapace (i.e. the number of c ostals and vertebrals) and scale pattern s between and behind the eyes; e.g. disti nctively, g reen sea turtles have two large pre frontal scales ( pf see insert) The assessment and treatment of injured sea turtles may call for a measurement of the carapace (top shell) from nuchal notch to the supracaudals recording the distance betw een the edge of the plastron (lower, or belly shell) and the vent examination of the inguinal area for leeches, examination of the axillary area for fibropapilloma tumors, and so on. We have tried to keep the use of technical jargon to a minimum, but som etimes it is unavoidable. The following diagrams (from Pritchard and Mortimer, 1999) provide a simple overview. For more detail, see Work (2000) and Wyneken (2001 2003 ). Note : H atchlings display many of the same diagnos tic character ist ics such as the scute pattern on the carapace, as do adults of the same species. inguinal area v ent (cloaca) axillary area inguinal area
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 15 Coaxing turtle with net frame, VAF Retrieving small turtle with net, VAF Retrieving turtle with cargo net, VAF III. H ANDLING A ND T RANSPORT Procedures and Advice: Handling a Live Turtle If required by law, licensed rehabilitators should carry the necessary permits that allow them to handle and transport protected species, including sea turtle s. Sea t urtles should not be handled unneces sarily, and should not be encouraged to become habituated to human contact and interaction. When ever handling is required, the animal must be ret rieved, restrained ( positioned for procedure s ) kept calm, and returned safely to the holding facility. S ITUATIONS R EQUIRING H ANDLING Initial recovery of a sea turtle from a beach or other location R emoving a sea turtle from a tank for exam ination, med ical procedure s, or topical medication Properly restraining a sea turtle for examinations and diagnostic procedures Transporting a sea turtle to an off site facilit y for radiographs, ultrasounds or surgeries Cleaning a sea turtle, as necessary, of debili tating epibiota and parasites Applying identification marks, including flipper and/or PIT tags Properly r eleas ing a sea turtle to the ocean Retrieve The first step in handling is to retrieve the sea turtle from its tank or en closure. Turtle and tank size will determine the course of action. S mall er sea turtles that can be handled by 1 2 people : T he best op tions are to (i) r each into the tank and grab the carapace securely, placing one hand just behind the head and the other at the rear or (ii ) embrace the front flippers pinning them against the sides of the cara pace Turtles out of reach can be coaxed into range using a net frame ( without netting) gently positioned around the head and /o r a front flipper Juveniles can be caught using a net ( with netting small mesh ). If these methods do not work, one or two people may have to enter the tank to retrieve the turtle. To do this, slowly surround turtle and close in grasp the cara pace, mo ve the turtle to the tank edge, and lift. Make sure there is someone on the outside of the tank to receive the animal. Tu rtle s too large to be handled by 1 2 people : (i) Three or four people are positioned around the turtle in order to l ift it out of the tank, or (ii) the turtle is h erd ed into a net or stretcher and t hen lifted out of the t ank by assisting personnel. Beware : f lapping front flippers can cause you to lose your grasp and/or balance endangering both you and the turtle If the turtle i s too large to safely remove from the tank, drain the tank and hoist the turtle atop a rubber tire for the duration of the examination. A lternatively, use floats, stretchers, nets or physical restraint to h old the animal at the surface of the water for ex amination or treatment
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 16 T VAF Placing a sea turtle on a tire, B Bergwerf, SCA R estraining a turtle, n ote pos ition of hands on shoulders, VAF Holding a turtle with a large hoop (rigid frame) net, VAF Restrain T ransport within a facility can be done by hand holding the turtle or us ing a cargo net, stretcher, wagon, or any other safe, secure transport mechanism that will not jostle the animal or allow the flippers to flail. I n dividuals with open wounds fare best with mechanisms that minimize contact with these wounds. Whatever mechanism is used, it must be strong enough for large turtles and made of materials that will not damage the animal or allow smaller turtles to become en tangled. See Appendix C: Cu stomized Turtle S tretche r. Turtles should only be restrained when necessary usually during trans port or during diagnostic procedures. Most strength comes from the front flippers, so restraint is usually focused there. To properly restrain a turtle, maintain a firm hold on the front flippers, near the shoulders. Flip pers can also be held or bound to the carapace to restrict movement. Small turtles, in particular, can break a humerus bone if not restrained properly. For injections and blood draws, the head is held to the oppo site side (e.g. the head should be directed left for an inject ion in the right shoulder) or firmly held down to prevent movement. Hint : a bucket placed between the head and shoulder can protect th e handler from being bitten when the turtle becomes aware of the injection. Comfort U se some sort of padding, such as towels or foam sheeting during transport and on surfaces (e.g. floors, tables, flatbed truck) used for examinations. The materia ls used should be reusable and easily cleaned. Padding provides comfort, leverage, and a layer for sanitiza tion. Rubber tires also make for comfortable padding and can aid in restricting movement (do not leave the turtle unattended on the tire) If the turtle become s stressed and irritable we recommend the following procedures, which are designed to c alm the turtle and maintain your control : (i) place a towel, blanket, or other cloth or (ii) place slight pressure on the back of the head and lean your body against the middle of the carapace being careful not to restric t breath ing or place undue pressure on the p l astron against hard surfaces Return Safety for both the turtle and the handler is an important concern. When h andling, all movements should b e smooth and steady. When re turn ing a turtle to a tank after a procedure, do not angle the body head first into water or the turtle will swim into the opposite tank wall Instead, release the turtle with its nose touching t he tank wall or orient the turtle along the side of the tank and give it a slight push, encouraging it to swim along the wall. Larger turtles may require staff to enter the tank follow ing similar steps as in the retrieve. Once released, staff s hould exi t tank immediately. Equi p ment used for handling should be disinfec ted or sanitized Wash hands/change g loves bef ore handling a nother turtle.
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 17 Wooden box carrier, VAF Plastic transportation box, Mote Marine Lab Procedures and Advice: Transporting a Live Turtle If you need to transport a sick or injured sea turtle, make every effort to keep the animal from over heating (e.g., keep it in the shade ) while waiting for the vehicle to arrive. Provide a smooth ride, keep the animal moist, and protect the animal from extremes of heat and cold. The following guidelines are inte nded for local ground transport, typically from the point of encounter to the location of a rescue/ rehabilitation center or veterinary clinic. 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 T he top of the container should be clearly marked. Containers should be ventilated and padded (at least on the bottom), be free of material that could be accidentally ingested and accommodate the fact that turtles must be kept moist T he best range of temperat ure for transport is 18 26 C ( 65 79 F) ( IATA LAR, 2006) Note : If a suitable container is not available, place the turtle on a foam pad or blanket with a damp towel over its head to keep it quiet on a flat bed truck. To prevent the turtle from dryi ng out during long distance transport, 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 and cover with wet towels If w et towels are used, protect the turtle from becoming too cold due to evaporative cooling t urtles covered with wet towels must not be kept in an air conditioned enviro n ment ( FFWCC 200 7 b). Air Transport To ensure the welfare and safety of anima ls being transported by air, access information about con tainers and ensure that your transportation procedures are compliant with international regulations, visit http://www.iata.org/p s/publications/live animals.htm to review the IATA Live Animals Regulations ( IATA LAR 2006 ). The LAR are enforced by the European Union, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and generally meet or exceed the intent of the U.S. Animal Welfare Act The Convent ion on International Trade in Endangered Species ( CITES ) and the World Organi z ation for Animal Health also officially recognize these regulations. Concerns and Warnings For all handling / transport, face the turtle forward (in the direction of motion) Watch flippers while going through doorways. Pay careful attention never abrade open wounds, sores, or skin irritations. Confirm that containers are secured during transport such that they do not slide around or tip over. In ternational shipment s require a CITES permit ( http://www.cites.org/eng/res/12/E12 03R14A2.pdf ) and must follow strict transportation guidelines ( www.cites.org/eng/resources/transport/index.shtml )
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 18 IV. A DMITTING A P ATIENT 4 Critically ill or injured sea turtles should be taken to a permitted health care facility immediately. They should be transported astrons) on a padded surface and be kept moistened with wet towels, misters, or some sort of irrigation. A traumatized sea turtle may be in an anoxic state and comatose; see Phelan and Eckert (2006) for detailed resuscitation procedures. Note : P lacing a sea turtle on its back (on the carapace) is very stressful I t reduces respiration and in creases the likelihood of gastrointestinal torsion or volvulus (S hane Boylan, DVM pers. comm.) Assessment and Documentation On arrival, a standard protocol s hould be used for all animals. The initial diagnostic evaluation should include a complete history (as much as possible). Knowledge of how and where the turtle was recov ered often gives clues as to the medical problems. Before medical intervention is i nitiated, appro priate agencies should be notified and a strandin g report completed (see Appendix B: Sample Docu mentation Forms ) The physical assessment should be performed following a prescribed routine each time to ensure that nothing is missed. Hern andez Divers (2006) presents detailed, well illustrated diagnostic techniques for reptiles, including common differential diagnoses by symptoms, and these are adaptable to sea turtles (see also Norton, 2005a) Saving the obvious problems (e.g., fish hook, fractured carapace) for last is recommended so that other abnormalities are not overlooked. All ani mals should be weighed, measured (straight and curved carapace length and width, straight plastron length), and the core body temperature recorded (measure d from the cloaca). A minim um database should be assembled, including a complete laboratory analysis (complete blood count, plasma chemistries), whole body radiographs (x rays) and when ever possible microbiologic cultures. Plasma and whole blood shoul d be collected, clearly labeled, and banked. Published nor mal hematologic and biochemical values for sea turtles are few 5 S ee Wyneken et al. (2006) for a data summary and a discussion of technique s ( cytologic analyses, diagnostic imaging, endoscopy ) c ommon medical problems (trauma, fibropapillomatosis, fish hooks and gastrointestinal injury, entan glements, buoyancy abnormalities, oil contamination, parasites, infectious disease s neoplasia, anor exia, lethargy) and therapeutics (anesthesia, pain mana gement, surgery) A comprehensive neurologic examination should be performed on all patients with neurologic abnor malities or spinal or head trauma. T tion to mammals that a general neurolo gic examination, including a cranial nerve evaluation, should be effective in determining location of neurologic dam a (Wyneken et al., 2006). S tart with a quiet observation of the animal free swimming in water if possible, followed by an aq uatic and a terrestrial assessment of condition and ability See Chrisman et al ( 199 7 ) for detail s. Therapeutics Principles of treatment should follow standard guidelines, including sea turtle specific drug dosages (see Stamper et al., 1999; Manire et al., 2003; Rhinehart et al., 2003; Mitchell, 2006) and general rep tile protocols (Carpenter 2005), discussion of which is not within the scope of this manual. After initial diagnostics and establishment of a treatment plan, sea turtles should be housed in isolation pools. 4 distilled f rom Wyneken et al. which is Chapter 76 in Mader ld always be on han d. 5 For example, see Bolten and Bjorndal, 1992; Gelli et al., 2004; Gicking et al., 2004; Deem et al. 200 6 ; Kakizoe et al. 2007; online: http://accstr.ufl.edu/blood_chem.htm
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 19 If a patient is too weak to raise its head out of the water to breathe, i t should be made comfortable on a foam pad to protect the plastron and placed in a shower pool (a drained tank with overhead spray) or covered with petrolatum jell y and moist towels to prevent dehydration (see also Section V: Holding Environment M aintaining Turtles out of Wat er ) Animals with slightly more energy can be placed in shallow tanks, and those with normal activity should be housed in deep pools to prom ote swimming and exercise. Dehydrated and epibiont covered turtles should receive a 24 hour soaking in a fresh water pool, both to correct dehydration and aid in the shedding of epibionts, including ecto parasites. Normal seawater should be used in the re habilitation and hospitalization tanks. Salinity should be maintained at 2 0 35 parts per thousand (ppt). An open water system with high flow rates can reduce bacterial and algal growth A less desirable method of controlling bacterial and algal growth is the use of c hlorine added to the saltwater (0.5 mg/L to achieve a level of 0.5 parts per million ppm). If using chlorine, t est the water regularly (at least daily) free ch lorine 6 levels greater than 1 .0 ppm can irritat e (Campbell, 19 96; see also Section V: Holding Environment Water Quality Testing ) Indoor pools should be kept between 25 30C (77 86F). Water that is too cold can be immunosup pressive, depress appetite, and delay healing, and water that is too warm can cause h yperthermia and also have other metabolic consequences. Partial sha d e is required in outdoor tanks (see also Section V: Holding Environment Temperature Control ) Chilled patients should be warmed slowly (5 degrees/day). Rapid warming (or cooling) can cause significant shifts in blood pH and electrolytes. Medications are generally administered either orally (PO) intramuscularly (IM), intrac o elomically les. However, in animals that are debilitated, have gastrointestinal stasis, or are large and dangerous, the oral route may not be practical. Controversy exists regarding the best fluid to give reptile patients (for a detailed discussion beyond the scope of this H usbandry M anual, refer to Mader and Rudloff, 200 6 and Mitchell, 200 6 ). Remember that no single best fluid exists for all reptile patients, and that fluid choice should be based on patient assessment and blood results. A Note about Emergency Car e According to Mader and Rudloff (2006), it is a rare reptile case that cannot wait 24 hours for the initi ation of antibiotic treatment while the patient is properly warmed. Medications, fluids, enterals, and so on have little effect in the cold patie nt. Every effort should be made to evaluate body temperature, and th en adjust it (slowly) up or down as needed. Receiving facilities s hould have ap propriate protocols and devices for warming a critically ill sea turtle. For details conce rning emergency diagnostics, therapeutics, and fluid therapy, which are beyond the scope of this H usbandry M anual, see Mader and Rudloff (2006). WIDECAST is in the process of developing a veterinary handbook, including g eneral specimen and data collection methods, sea turtle formulary and indications, anesthesia, r adiographic and surgical techniques, and case studies. Concerns and Warnings Handle with caution even ill, injured, or otherwise weakened or impaired sea turtles may inflict a severe bite or flipper slap to an unsuspecting or inexperienced handler or bystander If wet towels are used to keep the turtle moist, avoid air conditioned environments ; t here is the danger that body temperature will drop dangerously low due to evaporative cooling. 6 Total chlorine = free chlorine + combined chlorine
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 20 P U BLISHED D RUG D OSING S TUDIES IN S EA T URTLES Selected References Carpenter J W. 2005. Exotic Animal Formulary, Third Edition Elsevier Saunders, St. Louis 564 pp Note : This reference includes a listing of drugs that have been used safely and successfull y in a wide range of reptiles with notations as to whether a recommended drug dose is based on a specific pharmacokinetic paper for a species, or if it is extrapolated or anecdota l Clauss T M.G. Papich, S. Coy, S. Hernandez Divers, I.K. Berzins and S C. Budsberg. 2007. Pharmacokinetics of meloxicam in loggerhead sea turtles ( Caretta caretta ) after single dose intravenous administration. Proc IAAAM, 228. Harms C A M.G. Papich, M.A. Stamper, P.M. Ross, M.X. Rodriques and A.A. Hohn. 2004. Pharmacoki netics of oxytetracycline in loggerhead sea turtles ( Caretta caretta ) after single intravenous and intramuscular injec tions. J Zoo Wildl Med 35(4):477 488. Jacobson E .R. R. Gronwall L.K. Maxwell, K. Merrit and G.R. Harman. 2005. Plasma concentrati ons of enro floxacin after single dose oral administration in loggerhead sea turtles ( Caretta caretta ). J Zoo Wildl Med 36 (4):628 634. Jacobson E R G.R. Harman, L.K. Maxwell and E.J. Laille. 2006. Plasma concentrations of praziquantel after oral a dministration of single and multiple doses in loggerhead sea turtles ( Caretta caretta ). Am J Vet Res 64: 304 309. Lai O R P. Mar n, P. Laricchiuta, G. Marzano, G. Crescenzo and E. Escudero. 2009. Pharmacokinetics of marbofloxacin in loggerhead sea turtles ( Caretta caretta ) after single intravenous and intramuscular doses. J Zoo Wildl Med 40(3):501 507. Mallo K M C.A. Harms, G.A. Lewbart and M.G. P apich. 2002. Pharmacokinetics of fluconazole in loggerhead sea turtles ( Caretta caretta ) after s ingle intravenous and subcutaneous injections, and multiple subcutaneous injections. J Zoo Wildl Med 33(1):29 35. Manire C A R.P Hunter, D.E. Koch, L. Byrd and H.L. Rhinehart. 2005. Pharmacokinetics of ticarcillin in the log gerhead sea turtle ( Car etta caretta ) after single intravenous and intramuscular injections. J Zoo Wildl Med 36 (1):44 53. Manire C A H.L. Rhinehart, G.J. Pennick, D.A. Suttun, R.P. Hunter and M.G. Rinaldi. 2003. Steady state plasma concentrations of itraconazole after or al administration in Kemp s ridley sea turtles, Lepidochelys kempi J Zoo Wildl Med 34(2):171 178. Mar n, P., A. Bay n, E. Fern nd ez Var n E. Escudero, C. Clavel, R. Almela and C.M. Carceles. 2008. Pharma cokinetics of danofloxacin after single dose intravenous, intramuscular and subcutaneous administration to log gerhead turtles Caretta caretta Dis Aquat Org 82:231 236. Rhinehart H.L., C.A. Manire, L. Byrd and N.M. Garner. 2003. Use of human granulocyte colony stimulating factor in a green sea turtle, Chelonia mydas J. Herp. Med. Surg. 13(3):10 14. Stamper M A M.G. Papich, G.A. Lewbart, S.B. May, D.D. Plummer and M.K. Stoskopf. 1999. Pharmaco kinetics of ceftazidime in loggerhead sea turtles ( Caretta caretta ) after single intravenous and in tramuscular in jec tions. J Zoo Wildl Med 30(1):32 35. Stamper M A M.G. Papich, G.A. Lewbart, S.B. May, D.D. Plumme r and M.K. Stoskopf. 2003. Pharmaco kinetics of florfenicol in loggerhead sea turtles ( Caretta caretta ) after single intravenous and i ntramuscular in jections. J Zoo Wildl Med 34(1):3 8.
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 21 A post hatchling is hand fed a strip of gelatin diet M. Hastings Post h atchlings tethered (see arrow) in the ir holding tank ( Hastings 2 006 ) A Note about Leatherback Turtles As a general rule, a dult leatherback sea turtles ( Dermochelys coriacea ) should not be confined. Their enormous size (adult females encountered in the Caribbean re gion average 250 500 kg: Leslie et al., 1996; Boulon et al., 1996; Georges and Fossette, 2006) unique ecological requirements (e.g., deep diving and long distance oceanic migration s : Eckert, 2006; Eckert et al., 2006; James et al., 2006; Foss ette et al., 2008) and a diet based on jellyfish and other gelatinous zooplankton (Ble akney, 1965; Duron et al., 1983; Bjorndal, 1997) cannot be accommodated without specialized facilities and a highly trained and experienced staff. Similarly, Jones et al. (20 00) emphasized that several issues had to be resolved before leatherback hatchlings could be maintained under captive conditions. In addition to a jellyfish based diet, h atchlings suffer from bacterial and fungal infections when water quality is poor (Fra yr, 1970; Birkenmeier, 1971; Foster and Chapman, 1975; Bels et al., 1988) and they fail to recognize physical barriers (Birkenmeier, 1972; Phillips, 1976; Witham, 1977; Davenport, 1987), leading to skin abrasions and infection from swimming into tank walls A recent attempt t o hone husbandry techniques for the benefit of both rehabilitation and research objec tives, occurred at the University of Br i tish Columbia (Jones, 2009) where h atchlings were hand fed at regular intervals, day and night, on a n enriche d gelatin based diet. Temperature was held at 241C, water quality was maintained by triple filtration systems (biological filter, ultraviolet filter, and protein skimmer), and water quality limits were monitored daily. Hastings (2006) describes elaborat e efforts to minimize potentially fatal abrasions using a tether and swivel system that con fined each turtle to a proscribed section of the tank. Sores and bacterial and fungal infections were treated with pov i done iodine solution ; if the infection persi sted antibiotics were administered daily until the infections resolved. Notwithstanding, few hatchlings survived and et al., 2000). Adults presen t even more significant challenges due to their great bulk and strength, and their habit of swimming repeatedly to their serious harm i nto tank walls. Our recommendation is that rescuers provide whatever care they can in situ (e.g., d etangling, dehook ing cleansing applying to pical anti biotics ) always wi th the safety of the turtle and the rescuers firmly in mind and the turtle be released. A fter a swimmer gently guide s a n adult tangled in a fishing line to the sloped entry of a fishing port in Rose au, Dominica, offi cers carefully untangle and release the turtle (photos by WIDECAST). At right, a biologist and a veterinarian enter the sea in French Guiana to cut an entangled leatherback free from the fishing net that has disabled it (photo by KWATA)
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 22 Outdoor, sheltered facility, R. Romanows i, Mote Marine Lab Indoor facility, note windows built into the tanks for viewing, B. Bergwerf, SCA Viewing window, SCA V. H OLDING E NVIRONMENT The most important thing to consider about the holding environment is to encourage a safe and com for table setting that is simple to care for and that is organized in such a way as to allow easy hand ling. Th is section describe s all aspects of the holding environment, including tanks, temperature and lighting, life support systems water quality, and sanitization. Facility The location of a rehabilitation facility is important and should provide security for people and anima ls, including adequate protection from in trusions by other domestic or wild animals. The facility should be sited o n or near a source of clean water with mini mal threat to the water supply from waste generated either by the fac ility or by other use rs. Natural salt water is preferred but artificial sea water is also a viable option. The facility should have access to medical or veterinary services and local water testing centers (if these are not included in facility design). Indoor and outdoor re habilitation facilities are both acceptable, but in either case the design should allow for a controlled environment with proper space lighting and temperature ; predator protection ; and access to roads, parking, electricity and water. Maintaining Turt les in Water Holding t anks should have unfurnished interiors smooth interior sur face s and be large enough to allow for unimpeded and complete sub mersion (Higgins, 2003). Tank diameter can range between 3 12 feet ( ca. 1 .0 3 7 m). Generally a water depth of 2 4 feet (0.6 1.2 m) allows the turtle to f ully submerge and to reach the surface again with minimal e ffort, and facilitates relatively easy handling. Tanks should provide safe hiding places to reduce turtle stress. of tanks, but there should be enough tanks available to support an expected number and variety of sea turtle sizes and conditions. Considerations Larger tanks mean more water and more cleaning effort. On the other hand the greater water volume promot es stable temperature and can improve water quality. Larger tanks also pro mote improved fitness for turtles that are able to get more exercise. Smaller tanks require less space and water O n the other hand, low water volume can make the system more susc eptible to water quality issues such as bacteria load, temperature change, and pH fluctuations. Also, s mall tanks holding large turtles can lead to muscle atrophy over extended periods unless special attention is paid to exercise and/or physical therapy. D eeper tanks allow turtles to dive to the bottom, and this can identify buoyancy problems that may not be apparent with a large turtle in a shallow pool. On the other hand, s hallow tanks offer easier access for dry docking (see Section V: Holding Environme nt Maintaining Turtles out of Water ) s howering a weak turtl e, a nd tube feedings or injections instead o f having to pull t he turtle out of the tank.
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 23 Plastic fence tank separators, VAF Tanks should be made with materials that cannot entangle t he turtles, and they should be free of toxic substances and non food items which c an be ingested. T ank material should be non corrosive, and flippers, smooth enough to prevent skin damage and calluses, and easily cleaned. Materials Glass tanks can be expensive, heavy, and generally im practical for medium to large turtles ; however, an advantage is that they are more resistant to scratch ing and etching from the tur tle beak s shells, and claws. Glass may have to be re siliconed periodically W hen the sili con e or other sealant pe e ls it c an be ingested posing a risk to the turtle Acrylic p lastic tanks weigh less than glass and are easier to drill and mold into the des ired shape but a crylic may not be practical for medium large turtles because of construction cost s. Fiberglass tanks can also be molded into a variety of shapes and sizes T hey are long lasting, and a popular choice in the aquarium industry for a variet y of animals. D isadvantage s are that they can be relatively expensive and heavy to transport G el coating s can crack and peel. Concrete tanks should be constructed of appropriate grade cement material and sealed to pre vent degradation when exposed to se awater. Quality sealants and treatments protect the con crete and provide smooth, cleanable surfaces. Poorly constructed cement tanks are more likely to be rough and this can cause skin irritations, harbor bacteria, and be difficult to clean. Polyethyl ene tanks like p olyvinyl chloride (PVC) tanks, are easy to work with, inexpensive, lightweight, and easily molded into any shape and size. They are made of a flexible plastic and are reinforced with additional plastic, which is called the flange. If pol yethylene tanks are over filled the flange can break and cause the tank to bow and fittings to leak. Separation Turtles housed together must be prevented from injuring each other. Ideally, there should be one turtle per tank (or per complete system) to avoid aggression, reduce conta mination and simplify feed monitoring However, it is sometimes unavoidable to accommodate m ultiple tur tles together in a single tank. If this occurs, h ouse turtles with similar ailments/trauma in the same tank to reduc e the risk of disease trans fer and health complications. Tank barriers constructed of plastic mesh or plastic fencing attached to PVC pipe can be created to limit physical contact between turtles Plastic mesh can be good for smaller turtles but, if not sturdily constructed, turtles can become entangled and drown or ingest the building materials Larger turtles can also break through the mesh, so plastic fencing is recommended for them Tank barriers should always be constructed so that they do not inhibit proper water flow or drainage For more detail on how to create tank dividers see Appendix D : Tank Dividers Concerns and Warnings Do not house a turtle with a transmittable disease in the same tank, or within the same system of tanks, with oth er turtles. See Appendix H: Quarantine If a tank needs to be fitted with separators because of space constraints, make sure that the tank is large enough to create divided sections with enough room for turtles to f r eely move.
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 24 S UMMARY OF H OLDING T ANK R EQ UIREMENTS 7 7 A dapted from FFWCC (2007 c : Holding Marine Turtles in Captivity. Size of Sea Turtle Holding Tanks Holding tank size should be based on the size of the largest turt straight carapace length (SCL): o Hatchlings and post hatchlings (up to 10 cm SCL) for one hatchling, a tank with a surface area of at least 5 times the carapace [shell] length multiplied by 2 times the carap ace width plus a minimum water depth of 1 foot. For each additional turtle increase the original surface area by 25%. o Turtles 10 50 cm SCL for on e turtle, a tank with a surface area of at least 7 times the carapace length multiplied by 2 times the carapace width plus a minimum water depth of 2.5 feet. For each ad ditional turtle, increase the original surface area by 50%. o Turtles 50 65 cm SCL for one turtle, a tank with a surface area of at least 7 times the carapace length multiplied by 2 times the carapace width, plus a minimum water depth of 3 feet. For each ad ditional turtle, increase the original surface area by 50%. o Turtles larger than 65 cm SCL for one turtle, a tank with a surface area of at least 9 times the cara pace length multiplied by 2 times the carapace width plus a minimum water depth of 4 feet. For each additional turtle, increase the original surface area by 100%. Helpful ca lculations: 10 cm SCL turtle needs a tank with 1 square foot of surface area 45 cm SCL turtle 50 cm SCL turtle 65 cm SCL turtle 90 cm SCL turtle nee 3 foot diameter tank = 7 square feet of surface area 6 foot diameter tank = 28 square feet of surface area 9 foot diameter tank = 64 square feet of surface area 12 foot diameter tank = 113 square fee t of surface area EXAMPLE: 45 cm (ca. 18 in) SCL turtle should be placed in a 6 foot diameter tank Exceptions o Sick or injured turtles may be held in smaller isolation tanks for medical treatment they should be protected from desiccation and moved to a n appropriate tank as soon as their health allows. o Tanks holding mobility impaired turtles shall meet the standard size requirements, unless it can be demonstrated that the tank is detrimental to the health or welfare of the animal. Tank Condition o The i nside surfaces of holding tanks must be free of toxic substances, such as lead or copper paints. o Holding tanks sh ould not contain any non food items that could be ingested by a turtle. Turtles will attempt to eat just about anything. Be sure that nothing e xcept intended food is put into or falls into a tank; this includes material that could be either ingested immediately or broken apart and ingested. o Holding tanks must be free of entangling materials. Position rocks, ledges, and other structures in the tan k s o that a turtle can not become wedged or otherwise trapped underwater. o The drains and intake pipes of holding tanks sh ould be constructed or securely shielded such that a turtle cannot become trapped and be held underwater by them. o Each holding tank must have enough lighting (sunlight and/or artificial lighting) to allow for easy view ing of the animal(s) in all areas of the tank. P hotoperiod must be similar to natural day length Tanks should n ever be artificially illuminated for more than 16 of every 24 h ours
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 25 Kiddie pool dry dock M Bauer, V CMSC Dry dock in shallow water, R. Romanowski, Mote Marine Lab Maintaining Turtles out of Water If a turtle i s found to be weak and debilitated upon arrival i t may need to be maintained out of water for a period of time. In most cases this need be only for on e night in order to give the turtle time to rest and absorb any fluids which may need to be administered. Very o ccasionally turtles come into a facility with minimal eye response, fluid in the lungs, lockjaw, inability to swim, or too weak to lift their h eads to breathe and may need to be maintained out of water for longer periods of time In any case, d ry docking is used to allow weak turtles to rest on a padded surface, either in shallow water or not in water at all ( Norton, 2005 b) while still being ke pt moist Once the turtle can move on its own, including lift ing its head to breathe, i t can be placed in deeper water and be given more space for mo vement. When this happens, be certain that the turtle is closely m onitored to ensure it does not weaken and require a return to dry dock. Note : Most dry docked tur tles are initially placed in freshwater (24 hours; 48 h ours maximum ) for hydration and epibiota control (Choy et al 1989). Once they regain strength and mobility, s altwater aid s in buoyancy control especially after being placed in a deeper tank Saltwater also help s with external fungus and bacteria control which may be exacerbated by hospital admittance or result f rom dry dock rubbing. Basic Set Up S mall empty tanks, such as any comm ercially available permit easy access for care and monitoring but consideration must be taken to make sure that the turtle cannot climb out of the pool Regular holding tanks can also be emptied and used. In either case, turtles should be placed on a padded or soft surface to allow the turtle to ex pand when breathing Lacking water, turtles must be kept misted, cov ered in Vaseline or a water based lubricant or covered with damp towels to prevent desiccation. Severely dehydrated turtl es may also need to be internally hydrated with veterinary supervision. Findings in dicative of physical dehydration include sunken eyes, thick oral secre tions, behavioral depression, slow and difficult to find heart beat, and minimal to no urination (No rton, 2005a). Ai r temperature should be closely monitored to prevent over heating or dangerous chill ing Shower boxes may also be constructed to hold debilitated turtles. Shower boxes are pools with foam padding lining the bottom and drains or contain ers underneath that allow continuous water spray over the turtle without water accumulating in the box keeping the turtle wet and preventing it from drowning (Campbell, 1996 ; RAC/SPAW, 2004). Advanced Set Up For a more advanced s et up, regular housing tanks can be used and filled with a small amount of fil tered water, enough to suspend the turtle off the bottom. Misting units may also be attached over head. In this case, make sure to secure the turtle on a padded surface, wrap a dive belt around its center, place it on a slight angle (such as on snorkeling fins) position a towel under the head for add ed support ( and to aid in breathing), and keep the pad with the animal attached in place with cinder blocks (see photo) or something sturdy. To preve nt abrasion, position the b locks so that the animal does not come into contact with them. This technique must be carefully constructed and monitored, or the turtle can be injured or drown. See Appendix E : Advanced Dry Dock Set up
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 26 Concerns and Warnings Dry docking may last o ne to several day s, or more time, the most important variable s to monitor are hydration and air temperature I f the turtle is misted with ( or partially submerged in ) water a ir and w ater temperature s should be maintained as warm, stable, and free of cool drafts. After a month of dry docking, turtles may form bed sores on the plastron and on the chin or lower jaw areas. To decrease the chance of developing these bed sores, turtles may need to be rested on inner tubes and other soft materials before sores develop The placement of these materials should be rotated to change pressure points. Lighting and Photoperiod Lighting is an important element for sea turtle health For example, u ltraviolet ( UV ) light is beneficial for the synthesis of V itamin D, which is required for proper metabolism, allowing for calcium uptake in the intestines (George, 1997). A natural photoperiod can be reproduced by turning lights on and off when staff ar rive and leave the facility, or by setting a timer to mimic daylight hours. Photoperiod should not exceed actual daylight, which is about 12 14 hours in Caribbean latitudes Outdoor Facilities Outdoor facilities must limit the amount of direct sunligh t to protect turtles from sunburn, inhibit algae growth in the tanks, and prevent water temperatures from getting too high. To limit direct light, fine mesh (black) screening can be used to cover tanks. Sheltered (hiding) areas can also be created inside the holding tanks (see Section V I I : Enrichment ) to provide cover and to limit sun exposure. Indoor Facilities Indoor facilities can rely on windows for light, or incorporate clear fiberglass panel s in the ceiling When relying on artificial light, bot h type of lighting and photoperiod must be considered We recom mend a full spectrum metal halide light because it is the closest to natural light (providing UVA and UVB), and it turns on slowly, resembling a sunrise. Care should be taken to keep the bul b 3 4 ft above the water surface, as any splashed water hitting the bulb will cause it to shatter. Newer bulbs are available that emit UV at 280 320 nm at greater distances, but these should not be used for rou tine lighting due to the potential for sunbu rn. A UV meter can monitor the strength and diameter of UV output. Surface readings should not exceed natural sunlight (200 450 mw/cm 2 is a good target) Fluorescent lights are generally inexpensive and readily available but not all brands provide adeq uate UV (see Gehrmann 2006 for photometric characteristics of selected lamps ) and, in any case, fluor escent bulbs only emit UVA and UVB at distances (18 in) too limiting to be useful to sea turtles be cause of water splashing See Gehrmann et al. (2004 ), Gehrmann (2006) and Burger et al. (2007) for a detailed discussion of artificial lighting as it relates to reptile husbandry To encourage proper light exposure for animals held indoor s without windows or skylights turtles can be taken outside on a regular basis: j uveniles on ce per week (or daily i f the animal is not s tress ed ) and older turtles anywhere from once per week to once per month Time outside should be limited to 15 30 minutes. When outdoors, keep the turtles properly moistened to prev ent over heating or e xces sive drying If the animals are placed in water, the water should be fresh clean and not allowed to over heat. Turtles taken outdoors for sunlight must be in stable condition (since movement can cause additional stress), and s upervised when outside. If access to direct sunlight is insufficient, a veter i n arian may recommend diet ary su pplement s of calcium and vitamin D (see Section VI: Diet )
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 27 Spray bar Note: Increase the effect by spraying across the water Temperature Control Surface Area and Volume Surface area and volume are directly re lated to tank size, and th e relationship between surface area and volume is important for temperature regulation. Increased surface area allows for more exchange between water and air ; i ncreased volume means it will take much more energy and time to chang e the water temperature of a system. The effects of surface area and volume on water temperature regulation depend on how the system is designed. If ambient air temperature is expected to control water temperature, then low volume systems will be much mo re susceptible to temperature fluctua tions than high volume systems. If heaters and/or chillers are used to control water temperatures, then surface area and volume of the system will be important factors in determining the energy re quirements of the eq uipment Note : Make sure the turtles do not have direct access to heaters. Water Temperature Water t emperature is one of the most important variables to control for proper health. Like all reptiles, sea turtles rely primarily on tem perature to promote physiological norms that enable full range of movement, normal body functions, etc. The optimal temperature range for si ze, but is generally 25 30 C (77 8 6 F ) (Higgins, 2003 ; Campbell, 1996 ). Temperatures kept too high, especially in closed systems, can promote rapid bacterial growth, behav ioral lethargy, and hyperthermic stress Temperature s kept too low can make se a turtles susceptible to pathogens To compensate for temperatures that fluctuate in response to air conditioning heat, sunlight, and/or natural ambient temperature affecting the rehabilitation environment, several options are available. These include t he use or adjustment of ambient air temperature, spray bars, and/or chillers and heaters. Tank and pipe insulation (closed cell neoprene) will help tanks hold their temper ature. Note : T he operation of water pumps can significantly increase holding tank temperature. Air Temperature Air temperature can have a strong effect on water temperature, depending on how a holding system is designed. If ambient air temperature is expected to control water temperature, then interior holding rooms should be well ve ntilated and temperature control led Depending on the need, sea turtle hold ing rooms should have circulating fans, air conditioning, and/or heaters. Spray Bar s return line (or fill line). Made of PVC, these pipes have a series of slits cut into them so that water will spray out and splash the surface in the tank. A spray bar is most efficient if it is spraying across the surface in the tank, rather than down into t he water (as shown here) The spray and splash action facilitates temperature exchange between air and water which can promote heat loss (cooling) in sys tems where water tempera t ure var ies from the ambient air temperature Note : Be careful not to crea te misting this can lead to bacteria inhala tion
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 28 Centrifugal pump, S. May, NCA PKS Chiller s and Heaters Chillers are mechanical devices that can be added to the water circulation system to lower water temperatures. These include in line internal chiller coils as well as drop in co il s that can be placed into the sump or tank. Although effective at controlling and maintaining cool temperatures, they re quire e lectricity, maintenance, and expense, and can have devastating effects if the thermostats fail causing the water temperature to become dangerously cold In air conditioned facilities, tanks may need to be heated. Heaters can be plumbed in line or added directly into the tank or sump. Heaters, like chillers, can have ruinous effects if the thermostat fails, causing water temp erature to rise to dangerous, even fatal, levels. To determine the size of heater needed, the maximum temperature without a controller can be tested before a turtle is put in the system. If the temperature rises above optimal, the heater should be down s ized as a precaution. Concerns and Warnings When ever adding fixtures to a tank, keep in mind that sea turtles may chew on them Reduce th is risk by placing fixtures i n inaccessible locations such as a sump or skimmer box. W henever chillers or heaters are in use, there should be some redundancy in design to include warning alarms or fail safe systems to disable the chiller (or heater) in the event of failure. Life Support Systems Pumps and Basic Plumbing Pump : A p ump i s a basic requirement in a t ank where water movement is desired (see Appendix F: Water System Diagrams ) Filters and other tools can be combined with the pump to provide other essential func tions, such as cleaning. Centrifugal pumps are commonly used with saltwater tanks because t hey require little m aintenance and can move high volume s of water with less energy. One pump can run several life support components or several pumps can be used to run components individually. Tank volume, life support components, system head pressure and biomass ( number of turtles housed in the system ) all need to be considered in pump size selection. Pump manufacture r s often provide a pump curve to help you make your selection. Pumps can be expensive b ut are necessary for many applications whether the system is closed, flow through, or features static water that needs to be moved in and out of a tank quickly. Note : Pump vibration may be a source of stress. Consider mount ing pumps and plumbing on rubber bushings or neoprene in an attempt to reduce the noise transfer. Plumbing : Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe is one of the most commonly used hard plastic pipes i n the aquarium industry. PVC is known for its durability, light weight, low cost versatility, and ease of use PVC may become brittle an d crack after long term UV exposure, so w hen selecting the pipe needed for a system consider carefully the amount of direct sunlight and the amount of pressure in the lines PVC can be painted, covered or insulated as needed, to reduce heat loss or gain and to provide UV protection PVC pipe can be sized (using PVC cutters or a hand saw), plumbed together through the use of vari ou s fittings and PVC glue or cement and crafted into almost any configuration Sump : Sumps are containers often made fro m p lastic, cement or fiberglass in to wh ich water is grav ity fed Sumps are generally placed under a tank in order to facilitate the gravity feed but they can be placed anywhere and will function as long as the water level in the tank is higher tha n the wa ter level
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 29 Skimmer box ball medi a; a biological filter, S. May, NCA PKS in the sump Adding a sump to the system will increase water volume, as well as provide a place for gravity driven filtration ( e.g., b ag filters) to occur and life support components to originate After water is gravity fed from a tank to a sum p a p ump can pull water from the sump send it through filtration and return it to the tank and/or back to the sump depending on the filters used. Individual tanks may have their own sumps, or s everal tanks can share o ne main sump thereby sharing life support sys tems a nd tank water. Lar ge sumps can also function as water storage basins for an incoming water supply or a place to mix synthetic salt water ; the water can be pumped from the basin to the systems as needed Finally, s urface skimming (to r educe floating waste) can be achieved through tank over flows in a gravity driven system that utilizes a sump, or through pump suction in a pressurized system. Skimmer Box : Skimmer boxes are sometimes similar to sumps but they are not always gravity d riven. Skimmer boxes are smaller than sumps, and are physically attached to a tank. S urface skimming is effective at filtering waste materials that collect at, or very near the surface. Skim mer boxes also divide the intake pressure, reducing the chanc e that a weak or small turtle will become stuck to an intake on the tank bottom and drown. Ideally, e ach system should have multiple bottom intakes and a skimmer box. Salt w ater : Saltwater can originate from a natural source or if clean sea water is una vailable, can be made from freshwater mixed with a com mercially available synthetic salt Each company provide s directions on how much salt mix to use per volume of water. Freshwater can b e mixed with synthetic salt in a variety of water storage contain ers (e.g., sump basin ) and can be mixed manua lly or by using a s ubmersible or e xternal pump Depending on the cleanliness of the salt mix, the mixed water can then be run through mechanical filtration before it is sent to the tanks. Note: Synthetic salt s can be costly and s hipments often arrive in large (28 62 lb / 13 23 kg ) bags or boxes that in bulk require large pallet s that may be difficult for some facilities to maneuver or afford. Filters If turtles are kept in tank s with static saltwater ( m eaning that there is no filtration), tank water should be changed da il y This can be very labor intensive. Adding filtration to a tank reduce s labor, save s maintenance time, and provide s water conditions more suitable for healing and re covery There ar e three main filter types biological, mechanical and chemical and a ll of them function when a pump or gravity fed system moves wate r through them. Some filters fall into more than one cate gory, and some serve more than one function. For the cleanes t water, combine different types of filters The possible combinations are limit less and depend on the needs of the animal s and of the facility Biological Filters Note : B iological filtration (which can include fluidized beds, low space bioreactors bio filter tanks, or media in a mesh bag placed in a sump or skimmer box) can be useful for sea turtles, but it is definitely less important than mechanical and chemical filtration (descriptions follow) For sea turtles, biological filtration is not nec essary f or flow through set ups and its use limits the use of some chemical sterilization. Remember that b leaching the system between sea turtle s will most likely kill the bacterial bed in the biological filter, which must then be re established
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 30 Bag filters, S. May, NCA PKS Sand filter, J. Bluvias Insert: Multi port valve, S. May, NCA PKS Biologic al fi ltration uses living b acteria to remove toxic compounds from the water and can also improve gas exchange. Biological filters rely on a pr take place on a variety of substrates ( in tank substrate is not recommend ed for sea turtle s because it c an b e ingested ) and in a variety of structures, and remove s harmful wastes by converting them from ammo nia to nitrite, and nitrite to a less toxic nitrate. With a filter of the correct size and the proper amount of media ( e g. bio balls, bio wheels, bio rings, bio stars ) the system will remain properly cycled and nitrogen balanced assuming that the waste carrying capacity has not been reached or disabled (e.g., beco m e clogged or anoxic ) Mechanical filtration should be plumbed prior to the biological filter to allow the cleanest water to move through the system and to help keep the bacteria free from excess debris Only the nitrate levels will increase once the filter is established. It is possible t o use a mechanical filter as a biological filter, but the system must be run at a reduced rate and cleaning the filter may kill the good bacteria requiring that the system be recycled more often than would otherwise be necessary Mechanical Filters Mechanical f ilters c ollect particulate matter, and the particle sizes are determined by the filter media. T he flow rates and expected biological loads of the system will determine the optimal pump and mechanical filter selections for a holding system. Sand F ilters : Sand f ilters are one of the most common forms of mechanical filtration and are gener ally used for larger volume tanks. A pump pushes water through the top of the filter and through the sand and the waste is c aptured in the top layers of sand. The filter can then be rinsed or back wa shed, the latter reverses the flow of water through the filter to sus pend the waste and dumps the water out o f the system. A multi port valve (see insert) on the filter controls the water direction and stays in the filter posit ion during periods of normal operation. Check with the filter manufacture r for the type and amount of sand or gravel needed, recommended backwash frequency, and pump size for proper efficiency. Note : Excessive waste load in the filter reduces flow. A pressure gauge on the filter can help determine when the filter needs to be rinsed or backwashed. Over time t reduces filtration capacity. The frequenc y of sand replacement can be reduced by regular stirring of the sand, whi ch prevents channeling Canister F ilters : With the use of a pump, canister filters function under pressure by forcing water over a pleated cartridge or some other media that can be cleaned and/or replaced when needed. As the media becomes clogged, the system flow may be reduced. A pressure ga u ge can be used to monitor the pressure in the filter, which increases when the filter is clogged and needs to be cleaned or replaced Usually the flow rate in th is filter is too high for i t to act as a biologica l filter ; th us when a canister filter is used in a closed system we r ecommend that there be another source of biological filtration. Bag F ilters : Bag filters are relatively inexpensive solid waste removers T hey are available in a variety of materia ls that remove an array of micron sized materials. Bag filters can be cleaned and reused but eventually must be replaced. Note : I f the bags are not maintained
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 31 UV sterilizer, S. May, NCA PKS Protein skimmer, S. May, NCA PKS UV sterilizer diagram. S ource: http://www.emperoraquatics aquarium.com provides user friendly background on a variety of aquarium filters and UV sterilizers. properly they can overflow and back up a system Also, be aware that t he bag filter can fall off and block the pump suction causing the tank to overflow and possibly burn out the pump. The sma ller the filtration pores in the bag the better the filtration but the faste r the bag fills up and the more often it has to be cleaned. Bag filters can b e directly connected to a water pump for in line filtering, or use d in conjunct ion with a skimmer box, skimmer drain, or sump for gravity induced flow through the bag. Chemical Filters Activated C arbon F ilters : Carbon filters can be added to a system or carbon bags can be inserted into other (sand, cartridge) filtration media or put in the sump. Granular activated carbon can remove a variety of substances from tank water, including metals, antibiotics, organic wastes, and other foreign chemicals. Man y of these substances can contribute to discoloration of the water so use of activated carbon in filters or sumps can greatly improve water quality and appearance. Protein Skimmer : A p rotein s kimmer i s a pump driven filter that utilizes small air bubbl air is injected at or near the bottom of a column of water. As the bub bles rise through the water, the air stripping process creates a thick, dirty foam on the surface that can be collected and removed. This pro cess can also remove some suspended particles, thus serving as a mechanical filter, as well E fficiency of the protein skimmer is based on its size, pump selection, contact time, and bubble size. Protein skim mers can be v ery useful i n maintaining clean water systems, but instal l ation and operation requires technical knowledge, planning and skill. Steriliz ers Sterilization filtration can greatly help in disease control and in remov ing harmful bacteria, viruses, and fungi from a system but it must not be so powerful that it removes beneficial bacteria when biological filters are used (Moe, 1992). Ultraviolet (UV) L ight Sterilizer Ultraviolet light is a spectrum of light just below the range visible to the human eye. UV C (2 00 280 nm) is the most lethal range as a germici dal disinfectant and is capable of altering a living microorganism's DNA, keeping it from reproducing The installation of pump driven UV ster i lizers in a water system c an be effective in killing free float ing bacteria, viruses, and other microbes I nsuring optimum flow rates through UV sterilizers is important in deter min ing their effectiveness. In simplest terms, wa ter is e xposed to a UV bulb and the efficiency of the sterilizer depends on the age an d wattage of the bulb, exposure time though the unit (pump size), and deposits on the quartz sleeve. The bulb must be periodically replaced (at least every six months) and the sleeve cleaned often. If water is not moving through the unit, the UV bulb sho uld be turne d off in order to not burn out the bulb and damage the sleeve. Note : Solid waste should be removed from the water before it enters the UV s terilizer.
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 32 Ozone tower, S. May, NCA PKS In this di agram multiple filter types are utilized, including ozone Source : http://www.reefbuilders.com/ Ozone Ozone (O 3 ) ca n be created by an ozone generator and the oxidation ability of ozon e can be exploited to kill many harmful or ganisms, includ ing bacteria and viruses T here is debate about the relative safety of using ozone v er s us chlorine for disinfec t ion and e ach technique has its advantages and disadvantages. When using ozone, pro per monitoring of the water using ORP probes o xidation reduction potential is a measure of the water ability to b reak down contaminants ) is essential for determin ing proper dosing levels and for early detection of problems. Dosing levels and appro p riate ORP monitoring ranges are available in the literature, but should be carefully designed with the life support system and require professional consultation Depending on the ozone delivery method ( e.g., contact chambers, pro tein skimmers) and system design, ambient air ozone monitors may be necessary. These monitors will alarm if at mo spheric ozone is present in the facility and poses a hazard to human health. Both ozone gener ation systems and ozone monitors can be expensive and require re g ular professional maintenance to perform effec t ively. Chlorine Chlorine is a common disi nfectant in wat er purifica tion systems, swimming pools and even aquatic systems hous ing marine mammals and sea turtles Nevertheless, chlorine can be a very dangerous chemical to handle. Always seek qualified help and consul tation prior to using chlorine for steriliza tion, and remember that c hlorine stor age, application and monitoring must be carefully controlled. Campbell (1996) and Wyneken et al. ( 2006) caution against free chlorine levels greater than 1 .0 ppm and F lorida state r ine levels should be maintained no higher than 1. 0 ppm and no lower than 0 .5 ppm in sea turtle tanks (FFWCC 200 7 c). Chlorine should be introduced in an area where it can be mixed and evenly distributed to the filtration system at a point just before the water is returned to the main tank (such as in a sump or skimmer box). A chemical injector such as a diaphragm pump or peristaltic pump may be used for injection, but the chlorine may also be added by hand.
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 33 Concerns and Warnings Designing a life support system requires knowledge, experience, and planning. These factors, com bined with location and budget, will determ ine the best water holding system for a particular place and its expected needs. Keep in mind that just because a particular piece of equipment was presented and explained in a previous section, every piece of equipment does not need to be used to mainta in a stable environment. Keep it simple More equipment costs more money is more difficult to monitor and service and can cause unnecessary complexity. Make informed decisions For example, s ea turtles have high waste production so adding mechanica l filtration to a tank may have more overall benefits than adding a biological or chemical filt er UV sterilization ozone and chlorine all pose sig nificant dangers and should not be incor porated into your design without expert consultation. In every ca se proper d isposal protocols for spent filters, waste water, etc. must be followed In general, the following should be kept in mind: Biological Filters : If the media (i e ., bio balls, bio wheels, bio rings, bio stars ) fin d their way into the tank th e y can be ingested and cause intestinal impaction (and potentially death) to captive turtle s Mechanical Filters : Filters such as canister filters and sand filters operate under high pressures and extreme caution should be used when maintaining the se filt ers. Pumps should always be turned of f and air vents should be opened before the filters are opened for routine maintenance. UV Sterilizers : Staring directly into a UV bulb can be damaging to the human eye. During mainte n ance procedures, t he pump sho uld be turned off and the bulb unplugged. Sterilization by UV irradia tion may not be as efficient as sterilization by ozone but it is considered safer and may be a more practical choice for smaller volume systems. Ozone : Ozone released in a confined s pace can be fatal, and at the very least may cause head aches e ye irritations and b reathing trouble (Hall et al., 1992) Watch for leaks and do not use ozone in excess. Sometimes alarms fail E xtreme caution should always be used, especially if the ve ry dis tinct odor of ozone becomes apparent in the facility Chlorine : Extreme caution is warranted when using chlorine in a poorly ventilated area where th e toxic gas can irritate the respiratory system and eyes, as well as the skin if direct contact is made ( Winder, 2001 ). P roper eye wear, gloves, and masks should be worn as a precaution. Store chlorine i n a cool shaded area ; the potency of this chemical is reduced over time with heat exposure. Chlorine is pH sensitive ; therefore, the lower the p H, the more effective the sterilization. Water System Set up Successful rehabilitation of marine animals requires a co nsistent supply of clean seawater. This can be provided through a variety of water system designs. The designs are generally described based on the source of saltwater and how it circulates: o pen or flow through system; semi open system; or closed system See Appendix F: Water System D iagrams Note : I f the facility is not located on the coast, it may be necessary to transport water t o storage tanks (e.g., Bentivegna, 2004) Open, or Flow t hrough System Flow through systems generally use a pump to pull water from a natural water so urce and make use of valves to distribute the water where it is needed T he water is then returned to a common line be
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 34 fore being discharged b ack to the source (e.g., open water, saltwater well) Because w ater passes through each tank only once before it is returned to its natural source, an open system may not need any type of filtration or wastewater tre atment. However, t urnover rate is still important to system de sign. Turnover rate is defined as the rate at which the water in the system is completely changed and it If filtrati on is desired and/or mandated by law (to protect source waters) it should be added between the pump and the holding tanks or at the water inlet point. W ater systems that rely on natural sources should be prepared for problems associated with intake lines These are most often the result of bio fouling (e.g., barnacles) but it is also possible for marine debris and even fish to clog the pipes. T o minimize this risk, t here are some basic design criteria that should be consulted for construction and insta llation of intake lines These include removable intake screens to prevent large items from enter ing the pipe piping design s that promote cleaning and flushing of lines and/or redundant piping (at least two sets of intake lines) to facilitate routine m aintenance procedures as well as emergenc y protocols In addition, there should be an emergency plan in place to handle the possibility of contam ination of the natural water source, such that it would be unusable for a period of time. Semi open System Semi open systems, sometimes called semi closed systems, also rely on continuous replacement of water, but at a lower rate than in open systems. Semi open systems usually have a natural water source that is brought into a basin or large tank, filtered wit h mechanical and/or chemical filtration, and then moved into the system as needed. When water is moved back out of the system, such as during a water change or backwash, the water is either recycled in a recovery basin or returned (drained pumped) to its natural source. Semi open systems are basically open systems that do not run on flow through 100% of the time. Semi open systems are generally more costly than open systems due to the need for more circulation pumps and filtration. However, the semi ope n design has advantages for water management including more opportunity to control water quality parameters (e.g., tempera ture, salinity, pH) and i s better able to handle short term interruptions of natural water sources. Closed System Closed system s are designed to re circulate and filter sea water to maintain optimal water quality con ditions. System water does not flow through, but instead is continually filtered and cleaned. New water is only needed when water is drained from the system during t ank maintenance or when evap oration caus es water levels to drop It is normally advisable not to send filter backwash or drained water from a closed system directly to a natural water source and local regulations often prevent this practice. If local se wer and/or water treatment is available, these may be good options for the waste water. Alternatively, waste water can be sent to a reco very basin to be filtered, sterilized, and reused. Note : Be aware of all regulatory requirements concerning treatment and/or discharge of water. Closed systems are generally more expensive to construct and maintain, but they use less water and provide more control over water parameters than other designs. These systems may require emer gency electrical power or suppleme ntal water sources to maintain animals during catastrophic events. Closed systems are ideal for facilities with limited water access and provide advantages in reducing disease transmission. A closed system c an be comprised of several tanks plumbed to a single life support system, or a single tank with its own life support. In all cases d rains and pipes must be securely shielded t o prevent a turtle from becoming trapped or held underwater.
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 35 Chlorine and sat water testing equipment Water Quality Testing Water quality directly affects the de gree to which rehabilitation can be successful. All parameters that may affect the health and well being of sea turtles housed in the facility should be tested and moni tored as often as necessary T emperature, salinity pH ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate are easy to monitor and should be tested and recorded daily so that trends can be observed (once the tanks are stable, monitoring once every 1 2 weeks is sufficient) Other water quality parameters, such as ORP, chlorine or fecal coliform s should be mo nitored as needed and as appropriate to the particular type of water holding system and filtration. For flow through and semi open systems, the water source should be tested at least once every 1 2 weeks. Tank water for semi open and closed systems should be monitored daily or week ly depending on the equipment and sterilization methods used. Water T emperature There are a variety of ways to measure water temperature including, but not limited to, digital therm ometers and controllers with submersible p robes, temperature pens, infrared temperature scanners, and hand held (portable) YSI meters. Portable meters can be costly, but when properly calibrated and maintained, offer the advantage of also measuring other parameters including ORP, salinity, cond uctivity, and/or pH. One disadvantage of portable meters that are moved between tanks is that they can compromise quarantine protocols I f turtles are isolated from others due to disease or other reasons requiring precautions (see Appendix H: Quara n tine ) moving portable meters among tanks must be done carefully. Water temperature can be manipulated with water heaters, air heaters, chil lers, air conditioners, spray bars, and/or ventilation fans to maintain an optimal temperature of 25 30 C (77 86 F) ( Campbell, 1996; Higgins, 2003 ; Wyneken et al., 2006). Note : Turtles bite at every thing! Skimmer boxes provide a safe place for thermometers that are kept continuously in the tank Salinity Salinity c an be measured using a handheld YSI meter or a less expensive refractometer, hydrometer, or pinpoint salinity meter. Brackish to full strength saltwater (14 3 5 ppt) may be used (Higgins, 2003) but optimal values range from 20 35 ppt (FFWCC 200 7 c) except during a veterinar ian guided and temporary freshw ater submersion. If salinity gets too high, add freshwater for adjustment. pH pH can be measured with a handheld YSI meter or with a less expensive pH pen, pH pinpoint meter, or pH strip ( li tmus paper). The pH of n atural saltwater, varying with locati on and water conditions is typically 7.8 to 8.3. For sea turtles, the pH should be between 7.5 and 8.5 (FFWCC 200 7 c). pH decline is often taken as an indicator of declining water quality due to increased bio load. Chlorine For health and safety, regular testing is needed to ensure proper levels are maintained, which can be up to twice a day, every day. A DPD type test may be used to measure both free and total chlorine (total chlorine = free chlorine + combined chlorine) The DPD test is the most common type of chlorine test and utilizes two reagents (test chemicals). The test solution turn s reddish in the presence of chlorinated water; the darker it turns, the more chlorine is in the water. Free chlorine should be main tained at a level between 0.5 1.0 ppm (FFWCC, 2007c) higher level s can irritat e a sea (Campbell, 1996).
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 36 Sanitization equipment should be properly cleaned and stored Tank cleaning using a scrubber brush Sanitization Most sea turtles produce solid waste at least once each day which accumulates on the tank bottom along with excess food debri s. Dirty water can c ompromise health inhibit wound healing, caus e eye inflammation and exacerbat e mycotic and bacterial infection (RAC SPA, 1999). It is important that the flow dynamics of the life support system be designed to properly remove debris and contaminants from the tank (s) Fre quency of cleaning will vary with each type of system (e.g., a tank with filtration will require fewer water changes than a tank with static water) In tanks with static water, waste products must be removed manually generally by ne tting or by using a hose to siphon waste from the tank. A pump suction line that pulls from the bottom of the tank can be useful in the remov al of debris In this case a screen should be designed to prevent large material from being entrained in the pump suction line, and to prevent blockage of flow by (and possible entrapment of) a turtle. Water Changes Tank water should always be clear. Water changes can be based on many factors but often a decline in pH and an increase in nitrates will indicate th e need f or a water change I n non biologically filtered tank s ammonia can be used as an indicator. The condition of i ncoming water including temperature variance, must be considered carefully before it is added to the tank E nvironmental fluctuatio ns ( e.g., water temperature clarity) may cause serious stress to recovering turtles Moreover, poor quality wat er means m ore fre quent tank cleaning, which is also a source of stress to the turtle De pending on the condition of the turtle and the nature of the cleansing, the turtle can either remain in or be re moved from the tank during cleaning If the former always take precautions not to startle the turtle; if the latter, the turtle should be comfortable and not allowed to dry out. Cleaning Utensil s Always sanitize hands and utensils between tanks to minimiz e the risk of cross contamination. U tensil s can be soaked in a diluted bleach solution and rinsed as necessary Because the extent of a own, always take strong precautions regarding sanitation Note : Rotate disinfectants every several months to prevent resistance. Discharging Waste Wa ter Waste water disposal is an issue that should be addressed during the water system planning and desi gn. Any concentrated waste water such as that from filter backwash poses a potential threat to natural waters In general, it is preferable to discharge to a sanitary sewer system or to treat the waste water (e.g., using ozone, chlorination and de chlo rination, or carbon filtration) prior to release. When a turtle is released ( or dies ) the tank must be properly sterilized prior to it being re used. C hlo rine bleach (sodium hypochlorite) may be used to clean/soak tanks, aquaria, and any related equi p ment for 15 20 minutes in a 3% solution (1 oz [ 30 ml ] beach per one quart of water) (J. Wyneken FAU, in litt 2008). Rinse the tank thoroughly with clean fresh or salt water.
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 37 Concerns and Warnings So dium thiosulfate should be kept on hand if you use c hlorine or ozone for disinfection. This product is relatively safe to handle and poses little risk to aquatic animals. If there is an accidental overdose of chlorine or ozone in the water system, sodium thiosulfate quickly neutralize s chlorine residuals a nd reduces aquatic ozone levels D e chlorination protocol s should include dosing levels for thiosulfate. Safeguard your source water! W aste water poses a potential threat to natural waters C hlorinated waste water is of most concern, and its discharg e into natural waters is likely to be illegal In general, it is preferable to discharge to a sanitary sewer system or somehow treat or clean the waste water (e.g., using ozone, chlorination and de chlorination, or carbon filtration) prior to release. For more information on holding environment s, see : Florida Fish and Marine 2007a): http ://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/managed/sea turtles/conservation guidelines/ for Marine Turtles Section VI : Maintenance of S ea T urtles in a C onvalescent P ool RAC/SPA, 2004): http://www.rac spa.org/sites/default/files/doc_turtles/glrs.pdf Biology of Sea Turtles Volume II Sea T urtle H usbandry (Higgins, 2003 ) S UMMAR Y OF W ATER Q UALITY S TANDARDS 8 8 A dapted from FFWCC (2007 c : Holding Marine Turtles in Capt ivity. Water Quality Standards for Sea Turtle Holding Tanks o S alinity sh ould be maintained between 20 35 ppt. Turtles undergoing medical treatment may be kept at salinity levels above or below this range as prescribed by the attending veterinarian. o Wate r pH sh ould be maintained between 7.5 and 8.5. o Water temperatures sh ould be maintained between 2 5 30 C ( 77 86 F). The use of shades on out door tanks can help prevent tank water temperatures from becoming too warm. At facilities where tank water temper atures drop below 20 C (68 F), heating units should be used to maintain accept able temperatures. o If chlorine is used to treat the water, free chlorine levels should be maintained no higher than 1.0 ppm and no lower than 0.5 ppm (depending on the species a nd its sensitivity to chlorine). o Coliform bacteria (MPN) must not e xceed 1000/100ml of water [admittedly a difficult task in small systems] S teps should be taken (e.g., adequate filtration removing suspended material / feces / left over food use of an ap propriate sanitizing chemical s such as chlorine, high turnover rate with fresh, uncontaminated seawater ) to prevent the conditions in which coliform bacteria proliferate. o Unless a turtle is being treated with a substance that inadvertently reduces clarit y (e.g., the use of mineral oil as part of medical treatment) tank water should always be clear o No chemical may be used to treat water in a tank housing sea turtles if the chemical is not safely in gestible by the animals at the dilution required for ef fective treatment. o Any facility housing sea turtles must be able to provide adequate water quantity under normal and emergency conditions. Dry docking should occur only if determined by a veterinarian. If a turtle is removed from its tank, it must be pro tected from drying out and other damage, and kept in a temper ature controlled environment to ensure that its core temperature is not chilled or over heated o Water disposal shall be in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations.
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 38 V I D IET Food Selection Significant gaps remain in our understanding of the foraging ecology of wild sea turtles, as well as of the development and duration of diet preferences S imilarly, there are gaps in our understandi ng of proper nutrition regimes for sea turtles in captivity (Goldman et al., 1998). In general, Caribbean sea turtles are either herbivorous (green turtle), specializing on seagrass; broadly omnivorous (logger head, ridley turtles); or more narrowly omniv orous, specializing on sponges (hawksbill) or gelatinous prey including jellyfish, ctenophores and tunicates (leatherback) (Bjorndal, 1997). When first present ed to a rehabilitation facility, turtles are often malnourished and/or emaciated. Stabilizing a sea electrolytes is the first concern. Food intake by volume and caloric intake should rise over weeks. An atrophied liver may not have the necessary enzymes to deal with digestion and a rapid fat/protein in take in a debilitated animal c an do m ore damage than good. Most reptiles are adapted to long peri ods of fasting. When weight gain becomes a priority, food should be selected based on calories, fat and protein, as well as on vitamin and mineral ratios. Because t urtles started on one diet o ften resist changing to other items it is essential to offer a healthy, balance d and varied diet from the start and then chang e only the proportions of each component of the diet over time as necessary. Sea turtles are generally not discriminating in the foods they eat, and captive individuals are often fed a selection of locally available vegetables mixed with fish and invertebrates C ommercial pelleted tur tle feed, modified trout chow, and gelatin based diets have all been used with varied success. Squid i s often used because it is widely available, sea turtles readily accept it, and it is relatively inexpensive compared to shrimp, crabs and other natural foods. Squid can be effectively used to coax t urtles t o eat or to deliver medication ; h owever squid is high in phosphorous (P) and low in calcium (Ca) and should only be used for these purposes and never as the only protein source in a long term diet Studies documenting Ca:P plasma ratios in wild and captive sea turtles demonstrate that imbalanc es in these ratios can cause metabolic bone disease (Fowler, 1986; Goldman et al. 1998; Norton, 2005a). The optimum Ca:P ratios for most sea turtle s pecies ha ve yet to be determined, but foods known to have ratios between 1:1 and 1:2 are preferred (George 1997). Ca:P ratios in sea turtle plasma can be used to monitor health in captive turtles but t his is more of a concern for sea turtles in long term care (e.g., aquarium resident s ) S till, the better the diet reflect s more effective it is in maintaining I t is strongly recommend ed t hat sea turtles be offered an assortment of foods T his not only promote s proper nutrition, but more closely resembles the variety of food s and prey items tha t they would en counter and consume in the wild (Pough, 1992) For more detail on specialized diets and recipes, see Appendix G : Food Guide Note : Defecation and especially u rination can be difficult to observe. Nevertheless, during periods of active feeding caregivers should always confirm that t urtle s are s uccessfully defecating. Food Quantity The amount of food provided per meal is dependent upon factors such as physical condition blood values, size (length weight), species, and daily frequency of feedings. turtle is ba sed in part, on experience and on observation of an individual dition Because each sea turtle will arrive with a different weight, body condition, illness(es), and nutr i tional needs, staff and veterinarians sh ould consult on the desired daily ration and feeding fre
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 39 Prepared food for the day stored in walk in refrigerator Preparing food Weighing food quency. As a general guide, sea turtles should be fed 1 5% of their body weight on a daily basis tending to the lower percentage for maintenance and the hig her percentage for sick, emaciated and/or younger turtles. A diet of 5% body weight may be difficult for an emaciated turtle to handle at first, so m eals should start small and gradually be raised to the prescribed amount. F or t urtles gaining weight and in transition to a maintenance diet meals should be slowly reduced to 1 1.5% of body weight As a general guide t urtles are f ed 1 to 3 times per day. T he number of meals is dependent upon the amount of food desirable for the turtle to consume, as we ll as the frequency that any medication(s) need to be given Meals can be scheduled to correspond with oral medications that need to be given more than once each day, or for medications that need to be administered at separate times. Additional feedings may be necessary for turtles that require more food or to encourage reluctant e aters F or these and other reasons, several smaller meals are gener ally preferred over fewer large r meal s Large r food items should be cut into smaller pieces to minimize th e risk of intestinal blockage E ach meal should be properly weighed and recorded for each turtle prior to feeding and all uneaten food should be collect ed and discarded The amounts and types of food s that are offered should also be recorded for each turtle, in addition to how much and what w as eaten, and any relevant behavioral notes. See Appendix B : Sample Documentation Forms Food Storage and Preparation Every facility should have a designated food storage and preparation area with a functiona l freezer and refrigerator. Vegetables and certain medications may also need to be stored in a refrigerated environment fish may serve as a medium for bacterial growth if improperly tha wed. The nutritional integrity of the fish is best maintained during thawing when they are placed loosely covered in a refrigerated area and thawed as close in time to feeding as possible. Fish may be safely thawed un der refrigeration at 2 .0 3.5C. Othe r thawing methods (microwave, run ning water) should be used in emergency situations only. Thawing at room temperature is not advised and will hasten microbial growth and The y also pr ovide tabulated summaries of energy, major mineral and trace mineral content of whole fish and marine invertebrates. Frozen food should be thawed in a refrigerator. On t he day of feeding, thawed food i s taken out o f the refrigerator, weighed, cut, allo cated to designated storage bins for individual turtles, and then placed back into the refrigerator until the scheduled feeding time. Transporting food on ice is one way to ensure that it remains at an optimal temperature. If seafood items are not used immediately upon catch or purchase they can be frozen for later use. Some experts recommend that seafood, including fresh catches, be kept frozen prior to use to slow the growth of potentially harmful bact er ia and kill intermediate stages of parasites Others contend that some use of fresh seafood is acceptable in diets ; e.g., l ive crabs are useful for maintaining natural diets and conditioning turtles for release. Never re freeze food that has been prepared but not eaten.
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 40 Assisted feeding with a wooden pole Concerns and Warnings To reduce bacteria growth, feed immediately once food is prepared and avoid prolonged exposure to ambient temperatures T ools including strainers, knives, food containers, cutting boards should be washed with soap and water and disinfected after every us e and then stored properly S UMMARY OF F OOD AND F EEDING 9 Feeding Techniques and Tips Free Feeding The most basic feeding method is to hand toss prepared food into the tank ood items should be dispersed and n ot concentrat ed in one area W alk away once the food has been given so that th e turtle is less likely to associate human presence with food. Dis pose of any seafood not eaten after 20 minutes. Vegetables can be removed for dispos al prior to the next m eal Anything not eaten should be weighed and recorded. Never save or re use food items Assisted Feeding Turtles occasionally need coaxing before they will eat. Tongs (available for purchase in many lengths) or a sharpened po le (wood metal ) ar e simple tools that c an be used to hold food secure ly while wav ing it mouth Once the turtle takes the food, immediately remove the tongs (or pole ) from the water. If the turtle does not eat after attempt ing for several minutes try again later Pati ence is the key vary the time of day and the food item(s) offered T ry live food! 9 A dapted from FFWCC (2007 c : Holding Marine Turtles in Captivity. Food and Feeding o Food must be provided in an unspoiled and uncontaminated condition. Food should either be fresh, flash frozen and glazed, or frozen in some other manner that ensures the quality of the food. Any frozen food should be completely thawed under refrigeration pri or to feeding and used entirely or discarded. Note : Fish can become mushy when completely thawed and should be cut when still slightly frozen. o Frozen food that has been thawed must be used within 24 hours after thawing. Under no circum stances may food b e refrozen. If the quality of the food is questionable, it sh ould not be used o Food shall be of a type and quantity that meets the nutritional requirements for the particular turtle species. Reasonable efforts should be made by the holding facility to de velop proper diets and i t is the responsibility of the holding facility to ensure and justify the adequacy of its feeding regimen. o fish, crabs, shrimp and/or squid. Multi vitamin supplements (see Appendix G ) are recommended. o As a general rule, sea turtles are fed 1 3 times per day (for a total of 1% 5% of their body weight on a daily basis), tending to the lower percentage for maintenance and the higher percentage for sick, emaciated and/or younger turtles. o Hand feeding of turtles that will eventually be released should be prohibited except when absolutely necessary for rehabilitation. In the latter case, the turtle should be allowed to feed on its own as soon as possible.
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 41 Bite blocks and rope to open mouth, M. Bauer, V C MSC Tube feeding a loggerhead, SCA Alway s properly sanitize the tongs (or pole ) between feedings and between turtle s Generally, short tongs work better for turtles that tend to feed at or near the surfac e, while long tongs or poles work best for turtles that prefer to remain on the bottom of the tank Concerns and Warnings F eeding poles can be very sharp and wounds. K eep your hands safely out of bite range when fe eding and be aware that sea turtles can both lunge forward and turn their heads quickly Do not attempt to hand feed a sea turtle To prevent contamination and over feeding, n ever share uneaten food among turtles Tube Feeding Sea t urtles can surviv e several weeks even months, without food, but if a turtle will not eat or is unable to eat on its own, tube feeding may be the only option. Because s everely dehydrated and debilitated sea turtles have a tendency to regurgitate food confirm that the tur tle is in stabl e condition and has received initial IV/SubQ fluids, radiographs (to rule out intestinal blockages) and antibiotics prior to attempting tube feed ing Liquids used for tube feeding vary depending on the physical condition Some experts advise l ess viscous m ixtures for extremely emaciated turtles and m ore viscous (thicker) mixtures for turtles in better physical condition. Others advocate for thicker mixtures for very weak turtles so t hey do not regurgitate and aspirate the liq uid into their lungs, then thinner mixture s as the animal get s stronger. T he number of meals and amount of food offered should be determined by a veterinarian based on measured blood values, tur tle size/weight and any medications to be administered (s ee Appendix G: Food Guide for gruel recipes for tube feeding ) Pi eces of whole food should be offered between tube feedings. Watch for and confirm that t he turtle is defecating. When the turtle i s able to eat on its own, tube feeding should be stopped The following are additional helpful notes on supplies and methods provided by caregivers at the Volusia County Marine Science Center in Florida Position the turtle : Place the turtle on a p adde d board with an incline of 30 to 90 to assist with f eed ing and help prevent regurgitation. The board can be attached to or positioned inside a holding tank. O pen the mouth : Tap the nose and the turtle is likely to open its mouth F or smaller tur tles m alleable metal teaspoons can be used to pry open the mouth. To reduce the risk of injury, take heed to tilt and prop the spoon at different positions around the beak during each use Rope threaded through heavy gauge flexible tubing can also be us ed, espe c i ally for large turtles. The key to this technique is the smooth edge of the tubing which should be strong enough to open the mouth and gen tle enough not to harm the beak. Keep the mouth open : A bite block is necessary to prevent the turtle from crushing the feeding tube and to protect the handler Bite blocks can be made f rom a piece of PVC pipe or by using flexible, reinforced nylon tubing If using tubing, s trength is gained by layering smaller diameter tubes inside larger diameter tubes
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 42 Feeding tubes with tube in a tube insert, M Bauer, V C MSC Select a f eeding tube : The best material for a feeding tube is flexible reinforced nylon. The size of the feeding tube is related to the s ize of the turtle, but is typically 1 .0 2.5 feet ( 30 76 cm ) long and displays a diameter somewhere between a butterfly catheter tube and a garden hose. One end of the tube should be small enough for a catheter tip syringe to fit inside, so smaller tubes can be fit into larger tubes. Note : V arious sizes of equine stomach tubes work well for all but very small s ea turtles. Lubrication : Prior to use, lubricat e the o utside of the tube with KY jelly vegetable or fish oil, or other non toxic water soluble lubricant Catheter tip syringe : A catheter tip syringe, up to 100 cc, is use ful for inject ing medica tion, food, and water into the tube. The s ize of the syringe should correspond to the size of the tube; i.e., small enough to fit inside the tube but large enough to fit snug ly (to prevent leakage) C HECKLIST : P ROCEDURES FOR T UBE F EEDING A S EA T URTLE Select an appropriately size d tube (length, diameter), depending on the size of the turtle. Prepare your gruel and have all feeding equipment at hand for the procedure. Prior to feeding and align one end of the tube nose, then measure and mark the point on the tube that corresponds with the second vertebral Section II : The Essentials ) T his provides a reference point for the anterior portion of the s tomach and, therefore, a guide for how deep to insert the tube S ea turtles have supreme control of their esophageal sphinctors and success fully reaching the stomach is rare b ut the mark in dicat es the ideal insertion point. Position and secure the turtle against the padded board. Tap the nose or gently pry the mouth open with a rope or malleable spoon. Insert a bite block. Extend and straighten the head and neck then insert the lubricated tube gently into the mouth and slide to it down to your mark (tube needs to enter the stomach, not just distal esophagus) Hold the tube vertically U s ing the catheter tip syringe inject any medications first and follow with a syringe filled wit h water. Follow with appropriat e injections of liquid food. Remember that liquid food is easily regurgitated to minimize regurgitation, m aintain the turtle in a head up angle during and for a period of time (3 5 minutes) after tube feeding. Co nstantly smell breath for signs of halitosis which can indicate regurgitation and aspiration If foul smell is present and/or food is r egurgitated, immediately stop tube feeding tilt the turtle with head down to allow the food to run out, and return the turtle to the water. W hen feeding is done, g ently remove t he tube (p inch the tube before removal to prevent re maining tube contents from leaking onto the g lottis at the base of the tongue) remove the bite block and return the turtle to shallow water. Weak turtles should also be placed in water, even if only for 1 5 min. The water allows the turtle to clear its throat and safely expel excess mater ial. Some material may expel from the nose, which is normal and does not indicate aspiration
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 43 Stuffing medication in squid mantle Shrimp stuffed in squid mantle Sea turtle malformed by improper diet and handling, Rseau tortues marines Martinique ONCFS Concerns and Warnings Tube feeding i s a last option for a turtle that will not or is physically u nable to eat on its own. Seri ous c omplications can occur, and t he technique should only be done with expert guidance. Tube feed ing should not be attempted more than once per day. Sea t urtles with a decent body condition can go weeks without eating, and getting them to eat on their own is ideal. For more information on tube feeding, see: Reptile Medicine and Surgery (Mader, 2006) "Chelonian Eme rgency and Critical Care" (Norton, 2005a) Rehabilitation of S ea T urtles Oral Medications/Vitamins For turtles that are eating on their own, oral medications and vitamins can be given with meals. Vitamin and mineral considerations includ e Vitamin E B Complex, A, D3 calcium and iron and these should be administered as part of regimen prescribed by a veterinarian. Pills and capsules can be stuffed inside the fish gills, cloaca or muscle; inside a squid mantle ; or inside a plain ge latin capsule prior to feeding. Stuff p ills far enough inside the food item so that they do not fall out Do not place multiple pills of different types in the same piece because it is important to know how much of each vitamin or drug was ingested Gre en t urtles fed primarily v egetables can also be given fish or squid for oral medications and vitamins. Note : Watch closely to be sure the pill is ingested. To help ensure that medications and vitamins are taken, feed medicated food first ( t urtles with unstable appetites can be given a piece of non medicated food first to confirm a readiness to eat ) Medicated food is for immediate use, never store it. K eep track of and discard any uneaten pill s Other T ips Offering a variety of food items can en courage reluctant eaters, and offer some creative feeding options. For example i f small food items (e.g., fish shrimp ) are not p referred but squid is, the n stuff small food items inside the squid mantle (see photo insert). If a debilitated turtle does have not full gastrointestinal function, it is helpful to r emove squid pens. Turtles do not digest them and the y can clog pipes, drains, and skimmers. Add Vitamin E and thiamin when feeding frozen food: 100 IU/kg and 25 mg/kg, respectively, of frozen f ish fed. M onitor growth and development The turtle pictured here w as kept as a family pet during the first years of its life. The malfor mation is attributed t o malnourishment (causing the shell to be soft) and frequent manipulation by children prior to it arriving at the rescue center (Claire Cayol, in litt 19 September 2008).
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 44 Loggerhead turtle eats a live crab, K. Martin, Mote Marine Lab Constructing a f eeding mat, K. Martin, Mote Marine Lab Turtle interacts with an i ce block Turtle feeding from a drilled pipe K. Martin, Mote Marine Lab VI I E NRICHMENT Captive sea turtles are often restricted to a sterile, single species environment that does not allow them to engage in many natural behaviors. Enrichment provides behavioral choices by allowing tur tles to use the available space, reduces stereotypical swimming that can result in injury (such as cal luses from rubbing the sides of the tank), and encourages species specific activity related to explora tion, foraging, and tactile stimulation (Cunningham Smith et al., 2006; Therrien et al., 2007). Promot ing natural behaviors aids in the rehabilitation process by stimulating appetite, building strength, and encouraging alertness. Food Items Food based enri chment stimulate s appetite, curiosity, and movement. Each food item offered need s to be considered in the daily diet ; enrich ment should not result in over feeding To reduce the risk of cross con tamination, never re use uneaten food items or share food (or other en richment) items between tanks. Always remove uneaten remains. Live F ood Crabs and jellyfish natural diets. B o th offer excellent enrichment because they represent easy to catch live pr e y Re move tips of crab pinchers to prevent injury to eyes or open wounds Place the crab so the turtle has to chase it in order to catch it. Use only one live food item at a time to reduce waste. Note : L oggerheads and ridleys especially like crabs. Ice B locks Fill a small container with water, several drops of food coloring (option al), and a few pieces of food ( fish, shrimp vegetables) and freeze the container overnight. Place t he frozen block in the tank and let the turtle do the rest D ispo se of any uneaten food. Note : Good for all species. Drilled Pipes Cut a 20 6 0 cm length of large PVC pipe and drill several holes (less than 2.5 cm in diameter) on opposite sides of the pipe. Smooth the cut ends of the pipe, or cover them with socket fittings. Insert leafy or sliced vegetables into holes, and sink to the bottom of tank. Remove the tube once the food is gone or before staff members leave the facility for the night. Note : Best for green sea turtles but you can also put fish or fish pieces in to the holes to encourage foraging behavior in other species. Feeding M at Secure (such as with nylon cable tie s ) a rubber mat to a plastic grate a nd i nsert leafy and sliced vegetables into the holes. W eights or rocks may be need ed to sink the mat. Remove mat when the food is gone or before staff members leave for the night. Note : Best for green turtles.
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 45 Cement block and panel hiding place Back scratcher PVC pipe hiding place (above); asleep in a pipe cuff (below), J. Miller, SCA Non food Items Non food items are excellent for tactile stimulation and natural explora tion. The y can be left in tanks during hours of supervision They should n ot be shared among tanks unless they are sterilized between uses. Rocks Large, smooth rocks can be placed on the bottom of any tank. Rocks too large to be ingested are one of the few items that can be left in the tank at all times. To prevent contamination, rocks should be cleaned every few weeks and when a new turtle is introduced in to the tank. Waterfall s A simple trickle of water or a spray bar (see Section V : Holding Env i ron ment Temperature Control ) provides a welco me massage! Refugia ( Hiding Places ) Hiding places are essential for sea turtles. PVC pipes fashioned into various shapes with large diameter s and smooth edges are great hiding places. Be mindful of the size of pipe used turtles can become stuck in too narrow pipe s PVC pipes can also be constructed into pyramid or rectangular shapes that allow turtles to swim in and out. Exploration areas can also be created using cement blocks and flat plastic, fiber g lass, or non corrosive metal panels ( hint : l ayer blocks, add panels, and layer blocks again ) The space should be wide enough for the turtle to swim through and the structure should be sturdy enough to prevent collapse. Back S cratcher Back scratchers are easil y constructed of PVC pipes and soc ket fit t ing s During the design phase, make sure that the finished product fit s snugly onto the side of the tank and that it is angled slightly up from the water. This allows the scratcher to stay in place and t he sea turtle to easily get underneath. Experiment with scrub brushes, heavy ship rope and other co a rse materials that can be securely attached to tank walls. Concerns and Warnings Crabs should only be fed to t urtles that have a stable digestive tract and in preparation for release. Be mindf ul when designing enrichment items : keep the design simple and as natural as possible. Turtles may associate certain materials and objects (e.g., parking cones, buoys, tires) with objects they might naturally encounter in the wild t his association enco urages exploration and alertness. Enrichment items are generally meant for turtles that are in better health and should not be used for extremely debilitated turtles, unless live food is given to stimulate appetite.
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 46 V I II. R ELEASE Final Assessment and Cl earance A recovered turtle should be prepared for release as soon as practicable An assessment conducted by a veterinarian should meet the minimum requirement s articulated in the check list below. C HECKLIST : F INAL A SSESSMENT & C LEARANCE FOR R ELEASE To be a successful candidate for release, the turtle should be: Off all medications for a minimum of 1 4 days without complications Actively eating on its own free feeding, diving to retrieve food Able to capture any live food given (in the case of a large juvenile or adult) or able to make a good attempt to ca pture live food (in the case of a young juvenile) At a stable and normal weight not changing drastically, not emaciated, not overweight D isease free no open wounds/sores, tumors, skin irritations, debilitating epibiota, p arasites Defecating and urinating normally and regularly A ctively moving, swimming, diving without assistance ; resting comfortably on tank bottom Able to lift its head strongly when breathing Attempting to crawl when on solid ground Able to hold its limbs and head ab ove the ventral surface of its body, and act as if swimming when lifted out of the water Display ing blood parameters within normal limits Once a turtle is cleared for r eleas e and tagged (see Section VIII: Release Tagging ) re turn the ani mal to a safe and non polluted area, ideally the site wh ere i t was found or in an area where other s of its species and size are known to occur The most common protocol is to allo w the turtle to crawl on the beach, into the sea If individuals of its species and size are not found in nearshore waters, re lease at sea from an appropriate vessel should be arranged (see Section III : Handling and Transport ) Release from a rocky cove, B Bergwerf, SCA Release from a sandy beach Release from a boat
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 47 Rear f lipper t ag M. Godfrey, NCWRC Metal flipper tags, National Band & Tag Company Flipper tag through the scale B Bergwerf, SCA Rear f lipper t ag P. Dutton, NOAA Tagging Upon release, tagging provides a way to identify sea turtles as individuals. Tag type s most ofte n used on sea turtles are externally placed flipper tags (generally metal or plastic) and internally placed PIT (Passive Integrated Transponder) tags (Eckert and Beggs, 2006) We recommend that both flipper tagging and PIT tagging be done one week prior t o release giving time to monitor for potential infec tion at the tag site To reduce the risk of infection, tagging should be a clean and careful process. Flipper Tags Flipper tags are modified livestock tags that must be pierced through the flesh and clamped closed using tag applicators specially desi gned for each tag type. They are the most commonly used identification mark on sea turtles and can provide information on population trends, habitat residency, movement patterns (including international m ovement and migrations ), individual growth rates, reproductive life history (e.g. remi gration intervals, nesting frequency, clutch size, and/or hatchlings pro duced per female), and stranding pattern s. Tag Size Considerations Most flipper tag s tyl es are un suitable for use on turtles smaller than 25 30 cm straight carapace length (SC L) While very small metal tags are commercially available (e.g. National Band and Tag [NBT] # 1005 1), there are few data to evaluate their retention rates or any effe ct they may have on the movement or survival of very small turtles. In general, sea t urtles larger than 30 cm SCL should be tagged with NBT Inconel # 1005 681 tags. A larger tag ( NBT # 1005 49) is be tter suited for the largest adult sea turtle species: gr een, loggerhead, and leatherback tur tles. See http://www.nationalband.com/nbtear.htm for product details. Where Should a Flipper Tag be Applied? Two tags, one in the trailing edge of each fron t flipper, are applied to every turtle prior to release D ouble that a turtle retain s its unique identification over several years. Flipper tags can be applied in one of two ways: either through or between the enlarged f leshy scales located at the trailing edge of the flipper. If through the scale, we recommend placement in the center of the first or second scale proximal to (closest to) the body of the turtle on each front flipper. If between the scales, we recommend pl acing the tag between the first and second scales. Each ta g should be applied so that there is approximately 3 5 mm of open space between the trailing edge of the flipper and the inside curve of the tag. I f injury or other circumstances significantly reduce the likelihood of suc cessful tagging on a f ront flipper a rear flipper tag is placed through (or adjacent to) the first large scale on a hard shelled species For leather back turtle s the tag is fold of skin that connects the tail to the rear flipper.
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 48 Tagging pliers with metal flipper tag, National Band & Tag Co. Positioning pliers to tag, VAF Concerns and Warnings Regardless of whether your tag is placed through or between scales, it is important to remember that with increasing distance away from the body, tag retention is compromised In other words, t he further the tag is placed from the body, the more likely it is to be lost due to hydrodynamic forces, biting during courtship (or by predatory or curious fish), en tanglement in a fishing net, etc. In the case of rear flipper tagging plac ing the tag too close to the tail can be painful for the turtle Placement too far from the tail risks loss by predatory or curious fish, or loss to abrasion during nest excavation, in the case of a female Prepar ing f or the Application of a Flip per Tag Wash : During the manufacturing process the tags are covered in a lubricating oil comprised of an animal based oil and mineral spirits, and therefore must be washed prior to being applied to a turtle. Unwashed tags can quickly cause infection at the point of application. One option is to wash the tags in hot soapy water; another option is to use a biodegradable solvent or cleaning solution such as Simple Green or BioChem SolSafe 245 After cleaning, thoroughly dry the tags and store them in s Bend : If you consistently encounter problems with tags that do not fully cinch closed, give extra care to loading each tag correctly with the base plat e flush against the pliers You may also find it useful to adjust or bend the tag to help ensure that the point of the tag enters the hole dur ing the application process. Bend the tag so that the pointed end meets up with the hole, but be careful not to bend the tag too frequently as this will a ffe ct the integrity of the metal (this is particularly true with the softer Monel tags). Once you have bent the tag to ensure a fit, re open the tag so that it will be retained snugly in the tag applicator. Examine : Before applying a tag, f eel along the fl ipper edges and gently squeeze the first and second scales to identify any sores, lumps or obvious sensitivity Record the presence of potential tag scars (these may appear as rips in the flipper scales or skin, or lumps of scar tissue in the same locati on on both front flippers) and avoid placing new tags in these areas. Apply new tags as described below. Flipper Tag Application Steps Rinse the tip of the tagging pliers and the tags in alcohol. Clean hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer prio r to tagging and between tagging turtles Cleanse tagging site on the turtle with a broad based topical microbicide, such as a povidine iodine antiseptic solution (e.g., Betadine ) or rubbing alcohol before tag insertion. Pull the tag throug h the grooved guides in the jaws of the applicator (pliers) until it place. Make sure that the base plate of the tag is flat against the bottom jaw is seated in the hole. Marking one jaw of the pliers with white paint can assist in loadi ng the tags correctly at night. Be sure to check that the tag is seated securely
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 49 Closed pliers; note the stirrup style, National Band & Tag Co. PIT tags, L MLC Position the tag and pliers so that the tag number is facing upwards, is at the proper location on the flipper, and will result in an appropriate gap between the trailing edg e of the flipper and the inside curve of the tag Squeeze the pliers with a firm, smooth action. Squeezing too lightly will not allow the tine to bend and lock into place, while squeez ing too hard may cause the tag to flatten and pinch the flipper. Eit her mistake will result in tag loss, and the latter ( i.e., squee z ing too tightly) can cause unnecessary and unaccep t able discomfort to the turtle. Confirm that the tag is properly applied and cinched. For Inconel tags, turn the flipper over and examine the bottom of the tag to confirm that the tag has penetrated and that the tip (tine) is completely bent over and secure. An Inconel tag that is not secure can often be re crimped with the tagging pliers. If this fails, remove the tag carefully and try a gain with a new tag, using the same puncture hole if possible. In the case of a stirrup style Monel tag ( see insert ) where the bent tine is not visible, place your thumb and index finger on either side of the tag and gently attempt to wedge your fingers u nder the tag; if the tag pops open, it is not secure and must be replaced. RECORD THE TAG NUMBER. It is only after you have confirmed the proper and secure placement of the tag(s) that the tag numbers are recorded on the datasheet. Record the num bers ca refully, and indicate the placement site (e.g. left front flipper) if required by the data sheet. Take GREAT CARE in reading and transcribing the numbers. Check and double check that you have read and recorded the numbers correctly (it is helpful if a s econd person reads the numbers to the data recorder). Always record zeros. Concerns and Warnings P ractice tagging technique on a sheet of corrugated cardboard. It is important to become comfort able and confident with the quick, decisive action needed to penetrate the flesh and cinch the tag correctly. Slow or imprecise move ments can cause discomfort to the turtle. Moreover, if the animal moves (especially in a startle response) during tag placement, the application may be ruined. T wo people should b e involved in each tagging one person to hold the flipper and the turtle in case the turtle l urches and one to do the actual tagging PIT Tags Passive Integrated Transponder ( PIT ) cessors sealed in glass that can trans mit a unique identification number to a hand held reader when the reader briefly activates the tag with a low frequency radio signal a A PIT tag is cylindrical in shape, about the size of a grain of rice, and is injected unde r the skin or into the muscle. When a specialized reader is passed over the tag, a number, typically 9 15 digits arranged in a unique and unalterable alphanumeric code (i.e. a combination of numbers and ow. The sea turtle feels nothing as the reader ( or, scanner) is passed over it.
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 50 Scanning for PIT tag, B. Bergwerf, SCA The Turtl e Hospital, a nnotated by J Wyneken Triceps muscle complex PIT tag injection, NOAA/NMFS/SEFSC The use of PIT tags in adult sea turtles is well tested and offers the advantage of superior tag reten tion when c ompared to metal flipper tags Less information is availabl e on the long term effects of PIT tagging juvenile turtles. We do not discourage the PIT tagging of small juveniles, but we encou rage you to contact colleagues who are experienced with young er age classes. Concerns and Warnings Applying a PIT (Passive Integrated Transponder) tag is more invasive than applying a flipper tag and should be done only under the guidance of workers experienced with the technique. PIT tagging is not a substitute for flipper tagging, but is best used together with flipper ta gging so that at least one external tag is readily visible for the next encounter Tag Brand Considerations T here is l ittle standardization among sea turtle scientists with regard to PIT tag brand, frequency, placement (tag site), or record keeping. The challenge this presents f o r data collection is that when the reader is not the tag cannot be detected Standardizing brand use across geographic regions would assist in en suri ng that turtles PIT tagged at one s ite could be de tected as tagged at other project sites. In the absence of standardization, we re commend un encrypted PIT tags so that they can be read by other scanning tech nologies ( other manufacturers ) should your tagged turtle nest or b e cap tured in a nother location and we also recommend that you select a reader capable of detecting PIT tags made by different manufacturers Where Should a PIT Tag be Inserted ? A PIT tag is injected under the skin, generally into muscle, using a ster ile needle app licator available from the manufacturer. For sea turtles larger than 30 cm SCL, w e suggest tag insertion into the triceps muscle complex on the anterior and dorsal aspect of the upper arm. This mus cle mass, located on the humerus, can be pinched up so th a t the appli cator easily enters the muscle. ( Note : The major joint in the flipper is between the humerus bone and the radius and ulna bones. ) Th e triceps muscle complex is active during part of the swimming stroke, but no lameness has been detected in an imals receiving a PIT tag in this site ( J. Wyneken, Florida Atlantic University, unpubl. data ). An alternative site is adjacent the radius and ulna a top the flipper blade. You can feel the edges of the radius and ulna adjacent to the three large st sca les. I f this site is used, insert the tag parallel to the radius and ulna In some cases, PIT tags place d at this site may not enter muscle and can migrate and cause irritation. Whatever location you choose, remember that PIT tags are designed to become encapsulated with fibrous connective tissue in muscle. When the tag is encapsulated, it will not migrate away from the insertion point. Experience has shown that the tags do not encapsulate as reliably in skin, tendon, liga ment, connective tissue or fat Proximal to distal PIT tag injection Bermuda Turtle Project
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 51 Preparing for the Application of a PIT Tag Sterilize : Most PIT tags and applicators are pre sterilized and packaged for field use and we strongly recommend these If the PIT tag style you select is not pre sterilized, eac h tag must be soaked in non toxic disinfectant s (such as alcohol) prior to use. Scan : Verify that the sea turtle is not already PIT tagged As t here is no consensus on PIT tag place ment examine foreflippers, shoulder muscle s r ear flippers, and neck Co ntinue scanning even if a tag is found because some turtles may already have more than one PIT tag. To scan for an existing tag: t urn the reader ON press and hold the READ button while movi ng over the area to be scanned in a cir cular motion. U se the entire reading surface of the scanner when trying to detect a tag. Re scan : After s can ning an area, re scan while tilting the scanner at various angles. PIT tags read best when the tag is pointing with the small end (picture the tip of a grain of rice) pointed directly toward the scanner, but the tag is not always oriented optimally under the skin. By tilting the reading surface at different angles during a sweep, the probability of tag de tection is increased Record : If a PIT tag is found enter the number (and any hyphens) on your data form exactly as it ap pears on the scanner display. The number is usually hexadecimal (digits 0 9 and letters A F) and 10 (125, 128, or 400 kHz) or 15 ( 134.2 kHz) bytes long. Double check to verify that the number i s re corded without error taking extra precaution concerning letters / numbers that can be confused ; e.g., letter O and number 0 or . If the display is inconsistent, display s a 16 byte alphan umeric code (0 9 and A Z) or you may have found a n undecipherable, encrypted AVID tag. PIT Tag Application Steps Scan and record the new tag before insertion to verify that the tag is functional C lean the injection site with a swab sat urated in an antiseptic solution, such as Betadine I nsert the tagging needle under the skin and depress the syringe plunger to move the tag out of the applicator and into the muscle tissue. To inject using the triceps muscle complex, iso late by pinchi ng the area next to the dorsal humerus a ngle the applicator to ensure the tag is inserted into the muscle complex and not too deep into the flipper and p ush the plunger to move the tag out of the applicator If injectin g in to the flipper blade, identify the bones and in ject adjacent to the radius and ulna. Watch f or bleeding after injection. If blood flows from the wound, apply pressure with swab soaked in a n antiseptic solution such as Betadine until the flow stops. It may be necessary, especially in small juveniles, to apply a small amount of surgical glue to close the opening. Concerns and Warnings If the scanner has a low battery, or finds an unrecognized encrypted tag, the scanner may give bogus ; e.g., an excessively long al phanumeric code or nonsense symbols. T urn the scanner OFF, then ON, then re scan. If bogus readings persist, replace the batteries or try another scanner or, record the reading for later evaluation and make relevant notes on the data form I f the turtl e is rest ing on anything iron such as the bed of a truck, lift it up a few inches before scanning Iron (and certain neon lighting and electrical motors nearby) render the scanner ineffective
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 52 I X H ATCHLING H USBANDRY Hatchlings can be disoriented by beac hfront lighting and wander i nland, resulting in dehydration and/ or injury (e.g., Witherington and Martin, 2003) Other threats typically associated with beachfront de velopment near nesting grounds (e.g., high predator concentrations, beach driving, seaw alls, litter and debris: see Choi and Eckert, 2009) can also result in hatchling injury. In addition, hatchlings are occa sionally removed illegally from the nesting beach and kept as pets in home aquaria, where they are often housed in freshwater, fed in appropriately, and fail to thrive. If healthy hatchlings are rescued after being disoriented inland by beachfront lighting, they should be released immediately. If rescued during the heat of the day, they should be kept until late afternoon or evening in a lightly covered plastic cooler or bucket. On rare occasions, hatchlings or very young sea turtles may require care for up to several weeks to recuperate from traumatic injuries and other health issues Temporary Holding of Healthy Hatchling s Hatchli ngs kept for several hours or less may be kept in covered buckets or containers with a few in ches of damp beach sand or a damp towel. According to Phelan and Eckert (2006): 1. Place a few inches of damp beach sand ( n ever water ) in a bucket or cooler. I f the sand is too dry, the young turtles may desiccate (dry out); if too wet, energy will be wasted in swimming, and weak er hatchlings may be unable to hold their heads above the water to breathe. 2. Cover the bucket or cooler and place it in the shade un til late afternoon or nightfall. Supervise the container to avoid the unwanted attention of predators (e.g. dogs) and onlookers. 3. At the time of release, keep potential predators (e.g. dogs, birds, crabs) away from the hatchlings as they cross the be ach. Select an unlit stretch of beach (preferably the beach where the eggs were laid or the hatchlings found ) to release the hatchlings; if the beach is well lit, request that the land owner/ hotelier to turn off the lights briefly as the hatchlings make their way to the sea. To encourage natural sea finding, use minimum light and prohibit flash photography during hatchling releases. Concerns and Warnings Make sure that containers are secured during transport, such that they do not slide around or tip over. Avoid excessive heat or cold during transport. Because hatchlings are so small, they are more vul nerable to temperature changes. Check moisture levels regularly; moisture can be added using a fine mist from a spray bottle. During release, never It is important that the hatching process be as undisturbed as possible, so as not to interrupt the nat ural progression of the hatchling from the nest, across the beach, th rough 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 n its size, the young animal may have to be ferried out to an oceanic convergence where fishermen would normally encounter that life stage.
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 53 Close up of indi vidual float with mesh bottom and barrier Floating basket array It is illegal to possess sea turtles during the nesting/ hatching season in m ost Caribbean countries. Unless clearl y sick or debilitated, newborn hatchlings should be released to the sea as soon as pos open ocean systems immediately after departing the nesting bea ch. 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 in predator rich coastal waters Holding Environment for Sick or Injured Hatchli ngs Some hatchlings require more than an overnight stay and may or may not be able to swim. If the hatchlings a re put into water and they show no effort to swim or float, they should be removed from the water immediately. If too weak to swim the hatch ling can be placed on an in water stretcher and closely monitor ed for reactions to environmental stressors such as temperatu re (see Section V : Holding Environment Maintaining Turtles out of Water ). Hatchlings that are alert and activ e may be able to sw im on their own but should be monitored closely when put in water more than 1 inch deep, to make sure th at they can float and surface to breathe effortlessly. Tank s established for larger sea turtles (see Section V: Holding Envi ronment Maintaining Turtles in Water ) can be used for hatchlings. However, floating perforated baskets (made of sturdy plastic) should be placed inside the larger tank to allow caregivers to closely monitor the small turtles, prevent them from getting trapped in drain or suc tion lines and reduce the threat posed by biting If additional flotation is nec essary, small f loats can be a ttached to baskets and/or the baskets can be tied to the side of the tank. If post hatchlings are kept longer than overnight, consider providin g amphipods or shrimp for them to peck at. If the hatchlings are unable to swim well, float beds ( floating stretchers made from mesh that can be cable tied to a capped PVC pipe f rame ) can be created inside the tank or within the bas kets Fl oat bed s sho uld be built so t he hatchling has its nostrils out of water Float beds allow hatchlings to thermoregulate and stay hydrated and the thin water layer helps to support the body. Once the hatchling has enough energy to craw l around the mesh, in troduce bou ts of supervised swimming Concerns and Warnings Because all the evidence suggests that the immune system of leatherback hatchlings is we do not recommend prolonged ex situ care for this spe cies (see Section IV: Admitting a Patient A Note about Leatherback Turt l e s ). Because hatchlings are small, extra c are must be taken concerning the size and location of outflow val v es, intake pipes, and holes to prevent injury or drowning. All floating debri s including system components, that is accessible to the hatchling(s) must be removed. Cleaning protocols that involve chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite) require extra precautions in the presence of hatchlings. Keep bleach fumes away from hatchlings Tanks, aquaria, baskets, floats and bowls can be soaked for 15 20 min in a 3% solution (1 oz [ 30 ml ] bleach per 1 quart water) then r inse d thoroughly with clean fresh or saltwater before reintroducing hatchlings (J. Wyneken, Florida Atlantic Universit y, in litt 2008)
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 54 Hatchling release, A Fallabrino Karumb Hatchling foo d (mysis shrimp) Nail polish identification marker, K. Martin, Mote Marine Lab Identification Marking Because hatchlings are difficult to d istinguish from one another, it is helpful to mark them such as with plied as a number or combination of dots to the dry carapace f or fe ed ing and medication record s. Nail polish is not a permanent mark and reapplication may be needed depending on the length of stay. Another option is to keep hatchlings in separate labeled perforated baskets or other suitable floating containers in t he holding environment. P hotographs ( top view side view) provide a n important redundant sys tem of identification because scale ( and sometimes scute ) patterns can be unique Diet Hatchlings (with the exception of leatherbacks) can be fed a varie ty of crustaceans, mollusks, and fish carefully sized so that they are easy to swallow whole or soft enough to bite off small pieces. B ones and shells are essential, but alternative calcium supplementation may be neces sary un til the turtle is large enoug h to swallow bones and shells safely and without difficulty. Hatchlings can also be fed or supplemented with a gel or pellet food. A dd additional foods or vitamins to meet nutritional needs and to make t he gel food more pa latable. For gel recipe s see A ppendix G : Food Guide The amount of food given depends on spe cies and body weight Hatchlings are often fed a high percentage body weight at first, between 8 % and 15% (J. Wyne ken, FAU, in litt 2008) and may need to be fed several times each day to me et a target intake Food preparation and storage should follow the same guidelines de scribed in Section V I: Diet During the first several (5 8) days of life hatchlings obtain most of their energy and nutrition from a residual yolk sac. For this reas on, it is normal that newborns may not feed for several days Once the yolk has been fully utilized, h atchlings should be eating within a few days (no more than 3). If the hatchling does n o t eat on its own, assistance may be needed Gently open the mout h with the loop end of a small paper clip or a blunt toothpick. Cut solid food, such as small pieces of shrimp or fish, t o a size less than one quarter of the mouth. Feed less than a healthy turtle would eat in a single feeding with a target amount betw een 8 % and 15% of body weight per day (Wyne ken, FAU, in litt 2008). Easy to swallow food can be placed in the mouth, or a liquid fish diet may be dropped in the mouth; watch to see if the turtle swallows it. Note : The turtle may need to be placed back i n the water to facili tate swallowing Release H atchlings that remain hospitalized for several hours to a few days can be released on the beach where they were hatched (or found) Hatch lings can be placed near the water s edge to allow them easy acces s to the water without an excessive journey across the sand but should never be placed directly in the water The hatchling should orient natur
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 55 Hatchlings associated with floating seaweed, FWC Hatchl ings associated with floating seaweed, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) ally toward the sea. Release should take place in late afternoon or evening to reduce the threat of predat ion and heat stress Observers should remain on site for 10 20 minutes to confirm that none of the turtles wash back to the shore. h atchlings that have been rehabilitated for several days or weeks should be able to easily swim and dive display bu oyancy control have outgrown minor deformities be eat ing on their own and be free of seri ous wounds, lesions, and/ or injuries prior to their release. Although not strictly necessary, it is helpful i f l ive active food (e.g., jelly fish small shrim p small crabs ) can be offered prior to release. Hatch lings are generally curious and will eat almost anything, and successful hunting skills can be assessed using live food. Hatchlings that have been hospitalized for more than several weeks should be taken offshore, perhaps a mile or so (depending on your lo cation) and released by boat into open water. Ideally, these turtles should be placed within naturally occurring mats of floating seaweed, which offer protection and prey for the young animals. O ne of the least understood stages in the life cycle of a sea turtle is the pel ag ic phase, in which sea turtle hatchlings swim into the open sea and spend the first years of life growing and developing. Often referred to as t od most likely extends to a decade or more in some species ( Carr, 1987; Musick and Limpus, 1997 ; Bolten, 2003 ) For this reason, i t is admittedly difficult to know where to release young juveniles too small ( less than 20 cm SCL) to regularly inhabit coast al marine habitats (e.g., seagrass, coral reefs). In preparation for release of very young sea turtles caregivers should spend time talking to offshore fishers, ferry captains, and yachters to learn if sightings have been made of wild turtles in the s ize range of those ready for release. Post hatchling l oggerhead sea turtles, Caretta caretta released from a research vessel into offshore waters. Developmental habitat in this region features floating seaweed such as Sarg assum (right) South Carolina Aquarium
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 56 X. E MERGENCY P REPARATIONS AND P ROCEDURES The Caribbean is susceptible to tropical storms, hurricanes, and other factors that can result in power loss, flooding, and other emergency situations. With this in mind, there are several precautions that can be taken prior to or in the even t of an emergency. Staff and volunteers should be fully aware of all emergency procedures. Practice drills should be implemented at regular (at least annual) intervals. Under the m ost serious scenarios (e.g., a direct hit by a powerful hurricane), the immediate release of turtles diving and eating on their own should be considered. C HECKLIST : E QUIPMENT & P RECAUTIONS FOR E MERGENCY S ITUATIONS Power Generator : Power outages can span days or weeks after a storm. During an emergen cy situation, the rescue center must have access to a functional generator of sufficient size and capacity to ensure minimum filtration, water intake, and refrigeration. Extra Water : If water cann ot be accessed from the primary water source, a back up source of water should be available. Store fresh and salt water reserves. Food : Extra food should be stored in a powered refrigerator or freezer. If there is no power, t he facility must be ab le to obtain food for emergency purposes. Secure Shelter : I f wind and storm conditions threaten the structure of (or access to) outdoor holding facilities, turtles should be transferred to alternative and more secure locations. O ut door facilities s hould develop cooperative relations with suitably secure shelter s able to host tanks and turtles during inclement weather. Prepare Building and Surrounding Area : T ake normal precautions prior to a severe storm; e.g., t rim tree branches, bring loose it ems inside, board up windows test generators and other alternative systems Extra Tanks : Kiddie pools are useful to have on hand. They allow easy access and cleaning for temporary holding. Note : Active turtles are monitored more closely to preven t escape. Back up Documentation : Documents are often lost due to flooding. Confirm that all original and/or photocopied or computer archived d ocumentation ( e.g., patient records, documentation of food and medicine prescribed and/or administered water quality monitoring data ) are safe ly storied, ideally off site Facility Design : The facility should be designed for easy management, cleaning, and drain age. See Section V : Holding Environment for more information.
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 57 XI. M ORTALIT Y AND N ECROPSY Sickness and death are inevitable in any population. Sometimes a critically sick or injured sea turtle will die before it arrives at a rescue/rehabilitation facility or despite your best efforts, it will die in y our care. The incident provides an opp ortunity to improve your understanding of anatomy, to collect sam ples for more detailed assessments, to collect information that may inform and improve future treat ment protocols etc If you are inexperienced in necropsy methodology, invite a more expe rienced veterinarian, fisheries or wildlife officer, or animal care colleague to participate in the exercise. It is always helpful to work in pairs, so that one person can properly document the procedure. Euthanasia On extremely rare occasion s and in the worst of cases such as when an interrupted poaching event has resulted in the amputation of all four flippers or a blunt trauma renders the turtle comatose and unresponsive euthanasia may have to be considered. Based on the best available information and protocols (e.g., CCAC, 1993; AVMA, 200 7 ; NYS/CCE, 2005) Appendix I: Euthanasia in Sea Turtles provide s tress; with minimum time to loss of consciou sness; and under conditions that are safe for the person Mader (2006b) and Phelan and Eckert (2006) also offer overview s of euthanasia, including recommended techniques and carcass disposal. Necropsy Whether a turtle succum bs to illness or injury, or is euthanized, a necropsy ( t he animal equivalent of an autopsy) is one of the basic tools used to determine the underlying cause(s) of death if an ante mortem diagnosis was not obtained A necropsy also yields general informati on useful to manage ment, including diet and reproductive condition. A good necropsy involves the thorough examination of a carcass externally and internally including careful observations of lesions or abnormalities and procurement, labeling, and storag e of t issue samples (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 wi dth, 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 tail. Look for any sign of injur y such as th at caused by an encounter with a w ater craft (e.g. pro peller 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 prominent appearance to the supraoccipital cr est at the back of the head. Flippers should be examined for holes or scars from lost flipper tags. Scan for PIT tags. Any masses, swellings, discolorations, and scars should also be noted ( Campbell 1996). This H usbandry M anual is not designed as a n ecropsy guide The most user friendly reference, in our view, is Work (2000) Presented in a full color format and available in several languages, it was written for biologists w ho have little or no background in necropsy techniques nd illustrations are very helpful in recognizing various organs, obtaining samples, etc. Work (2000) and Wyneken (2001) both provide information on how to take standard measurements; guidance on mea suring sea turtles is also available in Bolten (1999). Additional detail on various aspects of sea turtle anatomy can be found in Wyneken (2003) and Bartol and Musick (2003). Garner (2006) offers a nicely illustrated overview of reptile necropsy in general, including sample procurement. Jacobson
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 58 (1999) is an other excellent resource, as is a related Internet based guide provided by the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine entitled, Sea Turtle Biopsy and Necropsy Techniques (see boxed insert), featur ing a comprehensive Necropsy Report Form t hat can be downloaded and printed. Concerns and Warnings Remember that you may need a permit to conduct a necropsy. Dead turtles should n ot be lifted by head or flippers Ideally they should be lifted by the carapace, with one person on each side of t he 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 tip). 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 dislocat ed 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 situa tion, tho se 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 reduced by wearing appropriate clothing (protective overalls and rubber gloves), eye protection (safe ty glasses or sun glasses), and by being careful when handling tissue. Always protect open wounds with dressings, avoid co ntact with flu ids or airborne droplets, and keep disinfectant solutions readily available (Geraci & Lounsbury, 1993). Any cuts suffered by people while conducting a necropsy should be thoroughly cleaned and treat ed. Any wound, however minor, must be car efully monitored for signs of infection. Infection under these circumstances can occur, and can become dangerous very quickly. Take special precautions when conducting a necrops y on a hawksbill turtle sponge spicules in the g astrointestinal t ract can cu t through and embed in the skin. The carcass must be properly disposed after conducting a necropsy (see Phelan & Eckert, 2006). S EA T URTLE N ECROPSY M ANUALS AND R ELATED R ESOURCES IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle iques for the Conserva et al. 199 9): http://iucn mtsg.org/publications/techniques manual en/ ; see, (Jacobson 1999) http://www.vetmed.ufl .edu/college/departments/sacs/research/SeaTurtleBiopsyandNecropsyTechniqu es.html http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/publications/necropsy_manuals/Sea_Turtle_Necropsy_Manual English.pdf http://courses.science.fau.edu/~jwyneken/sta/ ; see, in particular, the section on dissection: http://courses.science.fau.edu/~j wyneken/sta/SeaTurtleAnatomy Methods_of_Dissection.pdf
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Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 64 Norton, T.M. 20 05a. Chelonian e mergency and c ritical c are. Seminars in Avian and Exotic Pet Medi cine 14 (2):106 130. Norton, T.M. 2005b. Sea t urtle c onservation in Georgia and an o verview of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island, Georgia. Georgia Journal of Sci ence 63 (4): 208 230. NYS/CCE. 2005. Lethal Tools and Techniques (Chapter 5), Best Practices for Nuisance Wildlife Control Operators in New York State. New York State (NYS) Department of Environmental Conserva tion and Cornell University Cooperative Extens ion (CCE). http://nwco.net/0531 StepThreeLethalToolsAndTechniques/5 6 0 Stunning.asp Phelan, S.M. and K.L. Eckert 2006. Marine Turtle Trauma Response Procedures: A Field Guide. WIDECAST Technical Report No. 4. Beaufort, N orth Carolina 71 pp. http://www.widecast.org/Resources/Docs/Phelan_and_Ecke rt_2006_Sea_Turtle_Trauma_Response_ Field_Guide.pdf Phillips, E.J. 1977. Raising hatchlings of the leatherback turtle, Dermochelys coriacea Brit J Herpe tol ogy 5:677 678. Pough, H F. 199 2 Recommendations for the Care of Amphibians and Reptiles in Aca demic Insti tutions. National Academy Press. 33, S1 S21. Pritchard, P.C.H. and J.A. Mortimer. 1 999. Taxonomy, external morphology and species identifica tion, p.21 40. 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 Publication No. 4. Washington, D .C. http://iucn mtsg.org/publications/techniques manua l en/ 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/sites/default/files/doc_turtles/glrs.pdf Rhinehart, H.L., C.A. Manire, L. Byrd and N.M. Garner. 2003. Use of human granulocyte colony stim ulating factor in a green sea turtle, Chelonia my das J. Herp. Med. Surg. 13(3):10 14. Santoro, M., E.C. Greiner, J.A. Morales, and B. Rodrguez Ortz. 2006. Digenetic trematode commun ity in nesting green sea turtles ( Chelonia mydas ) from Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica. J Para sitology 92(6):120 2 1206. 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 ( Editors ), Research and Management Techniques for the Conservation of Sea Turtles. IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Sp ecialist Group Publ ication 4. Washington D.C http://iucn mtsg.org/publications/techniques manual en/ Shigenaka, G. (Editor). 2003. Oil and Sea Turtles: Biology, Planning, and Respo nse. NO AA National Ocean Service Office of Response and Restoration Washington, D.C. 111 pp. http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/book_shelf/35_turtle_complete.pdf Stamper, M.A., M.G. Papich, G.A. Lewbart, S.B. May, D.D. Plummer and M.K. Stoskopf. 1999. Pharmacokinetics of ceftazidime in loggerhead sea turtles ( Caretta caretta ) after single intravenous and intramuscular injections. J. Zoo. Wildl. Med. 30(1):32 35.
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 65 Stamper, M.A., M.G. Papich, G.A. Lewbart, S.B. May, D.D. Plummer and M.K. Stoskopf. 2003. Pharmacokinetics of florfenicol in loggerhead sea turtles ( Caretta caretta ) after single intravenous and intramuscular injections. J. Zoo. Wildl. Med. 34(1):3 8. Sto cker, L. 2005. Practical Wildlife Care Blackwell Publishing 352 pp. Therrien, C.L., L Gaster, P Cunningham Smith and C A. Manire. 2007. Experimental e valuation of e nvironmental e nrichment of s ea t urtles. Zoo Biology 26 :407 416. Walsh, M. 1999. Rehabi litation of sea turtles, p.202 207. In : K.L. Eckert, K.A. Bjorndal, F.A. Abreu G. and M. Donnelly ( Editors ), Research and Management Techniques for the Conservation of Sea Tur tles. IUCN/SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group Publ ication No. 4. Washington D.C http://iucn mtsg.org/publications/techniques manual en/ Winder, C. 2001. The toxicology of chlorine. Environmental Research 85(2):105 114. Witham, R. 1977. Dermochelys coriacea in captivity. Marine Turtle Newsletter 3:6. Witherington, B.E and R.E. Martin. 2003. Understanding, Assessing and Resolving Light Pollution Problems on Sea Turtle Nesting Beaches, Third Edition. Florida Marine Research Institute Technical Reports, TR 2. St. Petersburg, Florida. 73 pp. http://research.myfwc.com/publications/publication_info.asp?id=39080 Work, T.M. 2000. Sea Turtle Necropsy Manual for Biologists in Remote Refuges. U.S. Geological Survey, Nati http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/publications/necropsy_manuals/Sea_Turtle_Necropsy_Manual Engl ish.pdf Wyneken, J. 2001. The Anatomy of Sea Turtles. NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS SEFSC 470. U.S. Dept. Commerce, Miami. 172 pp. http://courses.science.fau.edu/~jwyneken/sta/ Wyneken, J. 2003. The external morphology, musculoskeletal system, and neuro anatomy of sea tur tles, p.39 77. In : P.L. Lutz, J.A. Musick and J. Wyneken (Editors), The Biology of Sea Turtles Volume II. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida. Wyneken, J., D.R. Mader, E.S. Web er III and C. Merigo. 2006. Medical c are of s ea t urtles, c hapter 76 : 972 1 007 In : D.R. Mader (Editor) Reptile Medicine and Surgery Second Ed W.B. Saunder s Co St. Louis, Missouri
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 66 A PPENDIX A S PECIES I DENTIFICATION 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 li ght yellow to light brown Color hatchling : 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 (IUCN Red List of Threatened Spe cies ); international trade prohibited by CITES; protected under the Protocol concerning Speci ally Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) to the UNEP Cartagena C onvention; protected under the Inter American Convention for the Protec tion and Conservation of Sea Turtles
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 10 67 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 differ ences among species P h ysical Characteristics Named for : Color of body fat (tinted from a diet of seagrass) Length adult : Carapace (upper shell) length 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 y ellow 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 7 0 days Global Status Endangered (IUCN Red List of Threatened Spe cies ); international trade prohibited by CITES; protected under the Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) to the UNEP Cartagena Convention; protected under the I nter American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle H usbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 1 0 68 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 Len gth 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 bla ck with white spots, plastron is mottled black 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 Incubati on time : 50 75 days Global Status Critically Endangered (IUCN Red List of Threat ened Species ) ; international trade prohibited by CITES; protected under the Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) to the UNEP Cartagena Conventio n; protected under the Inter American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle H usbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 1 0 69 Eretmochelys imbricata : Hawksbill (Eng), Tortuga Carey (Sp), Tortue imbrique (Fr) Adult (top) A dult (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 ne sts : 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 (IUCN Red List of Threat ened Species ) ; international trade prohibited by CITES; protected under the Protocol concern ing Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) to the UNEP Cartagena Convention; protected under the Inter American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle H usbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 1 0 70 Lepidochelys kempii s ridley (Eng), Tortuga Lora (Sp), Tortue de Kemp (Fr) Adult (top) Adult (bottom) Hatchling Head Physical Characteristics Length adult : Carapac e (upper shell) length of 2 2.5 feet (ca. 60 7 5 cm) smallest 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 ; day time nester (=eggs per nest): 100 105 eggs Incubation time : about 45 55 days Global Status Critically Endangered (IUCN Red List of Threat ened Species ) ; international trade prohibited by CITES; protected under the Protocol concern i ng Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) to the UNEP Cartagena Convention; protected under the Inter American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle H usbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 1 0 71 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 : Unifor m in color, grayish black Caribbean Reproduction/Nesting Peak nesting : 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 St atus Vulnerable (IUCN Red List of Threatened Spe cies ); international trade prohibited by CITES; protected under the Protocol concerning Speci ally Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) to the UNEP Cartagena Convention; protected under the Inter American Con vention for the Protec tion and Conservation of Sea Turtles
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle H usbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 1 0 72 WIDECAST 1992
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 1 0 73 A PPENDIX B S AMPLE DOCUMENTATION FORMS There is no correct way to document the rehabilitation process, but procedures and protocols should be established in such a way that they ar e (i) eas ily understood by staff and volunteers, (ii) meet the demands of the attending veterinarian, and (iii) meet the requirements of relevant permits or policy The following forms can be used as templates or models for your use: After completin g a stranding form, including complete information on where and when the turtle was found, and contact details for the observer(s) involved ( Form A ), each turtle should be subjected to an initial assessment ( Form B and/or Form C or some combination that m eets your needs) prior to ad mittance to the facility. Once a turtle is admitted, daily logs should be kept for water quality ( Form D ) and medications dispensed ( Form E ), as well as for recording details associated with feeding, diet, and behavior ( Form F ). Individual charts should be available for veterinary exams ( Form G and Form H ).
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 1 0 74 Form A 10 10 WIDECAST provides free tags, tagging equipment, training, and database management software from its regional Marine Turtle Tagging Centre at the University of the West Indies Barbados ( http://www.widecast.org/What/Regional/Tagging.html ) This stranding report form is one of several standard entry forms associated with the relational database. See Phelan and Eckert (2006) and Eckert and Sammy (2008) for detailed instructions on how to complete the data form.
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 1 0 75 F orm B WIDECAST Sea Turtle Trauma Response Corps: FIRST RESPONSE DATA FORM Observer (name/ tel #) : ____________________________________ ______ ___ ___ __ ___ __ Location: _______________________________________________________ ___ ___ _____ Date: __________________ ______ _____ Time: ____ ___ ___ AM PM Species (if known) : ____________________________________ Condition: LIVE DEAD Ins tructions : 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 Ob server 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 moveme nts. 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. Released to the sea: Y ES NO Injured /Sick Mo vements are very erratic or spasmodic and non directi onal, 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, shel l breakage, fishing g ear (line, net, hook) entanglement 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 No response, or an undetectable response, when you lightly touch the ey e or upper eyelid with your finger. No withdrawal reaction w hen a flipper is gently pulled or light pressure is applied t o th e 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.
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 1 0 76 Form C
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 1 0 77 Form D Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 1 0 78 Form E South Carolina Aquarium
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 1 0 79 Form F South Carolina Aquarium
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 1 0 80 Form G
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 1 0 81 Form H 11 11 S O A P S ubjective / O bjective / A ssessment / P lan. Sea Turtle Physical Assessment Sheet Treatment Sheet Field #: _________ Name: _____ _______________ Species: _________________
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 1 0 82 A PPENDIX C C USTOMIZED T URTLE S TRETCHER When the need arises to restrain a sea turtle, the Sea Turtle Rescue Program at the South Carolina Aquarium ( http://www.scaquarium.org/STR ) uses a custom that can be secured cross ways over the flippers and on top of the carapace. These stretchers are best used with sea turtles that have severely compromised shells (such as a fracture resulting from a boat strike) or severely debilitated turtles wi th soft, unstable shells. In cases such as these, handling the shell could further injure the turtle. The photo essay presented here, courtesy of Kelly Thorvalson at the SCA Sea Turtle Rescue Pro gram, illustrat es the technique on a turtle without a se vere shell injury but remember that the idea is to use the stretcher, not your hands, to lift and handle a turtle with a severely injured or unstable shell. For more information, please contact the manufacturer: William Blanchard Company, Inc. Attn: Diane Davis Email: email@example.com Telephone: + (781) 245 8050 (1) (2 ) (3 )
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 1 0 83 (5 ) (4 ) (6 ) (7 ) (8 ) (9 )
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 1 0 84 A PPENDIX D T ANK D IVIDERS The dividers are made of 5 cm (2 inch) PVC pipe around the perimeter with lattice in the center. To create, a ttach the lattice to the P VC pipe using screws, clamps and/or nylon cable ties Use flexible tubing for the curved area of the divider that will run along the side of the tank. Add approx imately 30 45 cm ( 1 .0 1.5 f ee t ) of extra PVC pipe on the top to overhang the tank. The cent er pole is 7.5 cm (3 inch) PVC with cement on the bottom (be sure the cement is sealed so that it doesn't break down in the salt water). Attach a bone ring for dogs to the top and bottom of the divider with hose clamps then slip the bone ring over the 7. 5 cm (3 inch) PVC pipe in the center. All photos Virginia Aquarium Foundation (VAF)
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 1 0 85 A PPENDIX E A DVANCED D RY DOCK S ET UP For advanced set up, secure the turtle on a padded or foam cushion (A). A dive belt (B), surrounding both the turtle and the padding, is usefu l to ensure that the turtle does not slip. Cement blocks (C) may be placed around turtle for additional support. Overhead, a mister (D) may be attached to a pipe (E), hose (F), and small pump (G). Attach the mister by rope to a piece of wood or PVC pipe (H) that hangs over the tank. Note: This type of set up is for severely debilitated turtles that are not active. Once the sea turtle be comes active, this type of set up should not be used. If an active sea turtle is placed in this configure tion, the re is a risk of harm to the animal due to entanglement in or ingestion of small pipes, hoses, cords, and so on. A PPENDIX F D H C B G F E A R. Romanowski, Mote Marine Laboratory
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 1 0 86 A PPENDIX F W ATER SYSTEM DIAGRAMS
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 1 0 87
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 1 0 88 A PPENDIX G F OOD G UIDE T he nutritional requirements of amphibian s and reptiles (including sea turtles) are poorly understood (Goldman et al., 1998), and the foods that can be provided to these creatures in captivity rarely re semble their natural diets. Providing balanced nutrition for amphibians and reptiles is chall enging, but a varied diet is likely to be more nutritious and more readily accepted than a diet consisting of only one kind of food (Pough, 1992). Sea turtles, which i n general are omnivorous in the wild (e.g., Mortimer, 1982; Bjorndal, 1985, 1997) are typically fed a selection of locally available v egetables and seafood during periods of captivity The typical diet consists of a leafy, dark green vegetable such as Romaine or cos lettuce ( Lactuca sativa L. var. longifolia ) mixed with cut up whole f ish, crabs, whole shrimp (with shell) and /or squid. T his simple mixed diet will sustain a juvenile or adult turtle (not a hatchling) for a month or two but, for long term resident s, m ultivitamin supplements (e.g., Mazuri SeaTabs multi vitamins used in h umans ) should be administered twice weekly T hiamine (25 mg/ kg fish) and vitamin E (100 IU/kg of fish) are particularly important (Terry Norton, DVM, pers. comm.). As a general guide, turtles should be fed 1 3 times per day (for a total of 1 5% of their body weight on a daily basis) tending to the lower percentage for maintenance and the higher percentage for sick, emaciated and/or younger turtles. T he number of meals is dependent upon the amount of food desir able for the turtle to consume, as well as the frequency that any medications need to be given. Addi tional feedings may be necessary for turtles that require more food, or to encourage reluctant eaters; for these and other reasons, several smaller meals are generally preferred over fewer larger meals. Larger food items should be cut into smaller pieces to minimize the risk of intestinal blockage. Each meal should be prepared under sanitary conditions, properly weighed and recorded for each tur tle prior to feeding, any uneaten food should be col lected and discarded, and food items should not be shared among turtles (see Section VI: Diet for details on food q uantity storage and preparation, as well as on feeding techniques). Special Cases The green turtle ( Chelonia mydas ) is the only herbivor ous sea turtle. It reli es on fermentative diges tion and show s characteristic morphological and physiological specializations of the gut. Food particle size, the ratio of fruit to foliage, and the ratio of plant to animal material can affect digestibilit y and the assimilation of energy and nutrients (Bjorndal, 1989, 1991; Bjorndal et al. 1990). It is a common mis take to feed captive green turtles a strict diet of lettuce, which compares poorly (from a nutritional standpoint) with a diet of seagrass. The leatherback turtle ( Dermochelys coriacea ) should not be confined unique needs (e.g., unobstructed long distance swimming, jellyfish diet) cannot be met without specialized facilities and a highly trained and experienced staff. Leatherba ck hatchlings have been successfully reared, but typically only for short periods (a few weeks to a few months) and their health and development have not been optimal. The most recent success was at the University of British Columbia (Jones, 2009) where ha tchlings were hand fe d turtles 3 5 times per day to satiation o n a n enriched squid gelatin Section IV: Admitting a Patient
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 1 0 89 Recipes The following recipes were contributed by experienced sea tur tle rehabil itation facilities and represent special cases, such as tube feeding of severely dehydrated turtles and gelatin diets for hatchlings and very young sea turtles. Gruel Purpose: Tube feeding dehydrated turtles Ingredients: F ish a ny fish can be used but h erring is particularly good for emaciated sea turtles Technique: Fillet fish remove the skin. A dd enough water so that, when blended, the mixture is run ny enough to flow easily for tube feeding. The m ixture tends to thicken and may need to be fl ushed with additional water prior to or during feeding. As with most food preparation, the gruel should be made the morning of feeding, properly weighed, and refrigerated prior to use. The amount of gruel fed to the turtle is determined by percent body weight, and it should be administered with the advice of a veterinarian. Gelatin Diet #1 (courtesy of Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center) Purpose: This diet is intended primarily for hatchlings to ensure proper nutrients, but it can also be u sed for other life stages Note : The type of fish used can change according to location and availability. The recipe is designed to provide several feedings for hatchlings, but may need to be doubled or tripled, or additional batches may need to be made, to meet the needs of larger turtles. Ingredients: 426g trout chow (sinki ng p ellet s), see Commercial Diets and Supplements 71g c od f ilet p ieces 71g h addock f ilet p ieces 71g w hiting f ilet p ieces 71g w hole s melt p ieces 170g s quid ( with pens removed ) 170g shrimp (with s hell on ) 142g b roccoli or b ok c hoy (f resh l eaves ) 142g c hopped c arrots (fresh) 8 f inely ground t ablets of Pet Cal Vitamin Supplement 15 f inely g round t ablets of SeaTabs 227g u nflavored g elatin 12 750 1000ml fresh water (tap water is fine) 12 B oth plant and animal based gelatins are available on the market and no difference in palette preference or product result was reported by experts reviewing this Husbandry Manual. However, it was noted that bulk quantities of edible gelatin are difficult to find and that animal based products tend to be easier and cheaper to acquire.
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 1 0 90 Technique: Soak pellets in 250ml fresh water. Grind up vitamins with a mortar/pestle. Combine sea food, veg etables, and soaked pellets in a food processor and blend. Add gr ound up vitamins and blend again. Boil 500ml water, remove from heat, add gelatin mixture, and mix well to remove any lumps. Add food processor mixture to gelatin mixture. Mix well and set into a clean tray (13 x 9 inch flexible plastic trays work well) The gelatin mixture can be stored in the refrigerator (maximum: one week) or freezer (maximum: six months). Yields: From a 13 x 9 inch tray, cut 12 blocks of 3 x 2 x 1.25 inches ( vary the cut to your preference based o n turtle size and weight). C ommercial Diets and Supplements We realize that some of the commercial diets and supplements called for in these recipes may not be readily available in Wider Caribbean countries and territories. In most cases, especially for short term care, you can sub stitute a product of similar nutritional value in particular for protein, fat, carbohy drates, and vitamins. Dog food (small chunk), for example, might substitute for trout chow. If you are establishing a rescue and rehabilitation facility, or if you h ave reason to believe that you will be rou tinely called upon to care for sick or injured sea turtles, it would be useful to explore online sources of these diets and supplements so that they are available to you as needed. Commercial Diets protein and 10% fat), high growth fish chow is acceptable, but particularly useful are the sinking ( vs floating) chows because they cause the gelatin to sink, making it e asier for the sea turtle to consume. Some examples can be found in the AquaMax pr oduct line http://aquamax.purinamills.com/ Source: http://aquamax.purinamills.com/aquamaxproductlist.pdf
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 1 0 91 Also used and recommended by some curators is Zeigler Finfish Silver a fishmeal based diet : http://www.zeiglerfeed.com/product_literature/aquaculture%20literature_finfish/Finfish%20Silver.pdf Note : If the gelatin diet is to be used for juveniles or adults that are healthy and not in need of addi tional caloric intake, we recommend a maintenance valued ( vs growth valued) c how. Supplements It can be difficult to acquire exotic animal supplements in some countries. Here we provide standard nutritional breakdowns for some commonly used products, recognizing that similar products wi th comparable nutritional components can be substituted based on local availability. SeaTabs vitamins come in two sizes and formulations: o riginal SeaTabs for larger marine animals (cetaceans and pinnipeds, such as dolphins, whales, seals, etc.) and a second formulation for birds, turtles fish and smaller sized sharks. The second formulation is used for sea turtles. For a guaran teed analysis or to make an order, vi sit http://www.pacifi cresearchlabsinc.com/seatabs.php
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 1 0 92 Mazuri products are availab le onlin e at http://shop.mazuri.com/ Recommended are the Mazuri Vita Zu Shark/Ray t ablets ( http://shop.mazuri.com/mazurivita zusharkraytablets.aspx ), see guaran teed analysis below. There are authorized Mazuri Exotic Animal Diet dealers in several Caribbean countries, including Aruba, Cayman Islands, Grenada, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, USA (including Puerto Rico), and Venezuela ( https://www.mazuri.com/Home.asp?Products=1&Opening=4 ). Cal Vitamin Supplement phosphorus vit amin D preparation for http://www.vetdepot.com/Pet Cal 60 Tablets.html which also provides a guaranteed analysis (per tablet), se e below: Guaranteed Analysis Crude Protein (minimum) 4.0% Crude Fat (minimum) 1.0% Crude Fiber (maximum) 1.0% Moisture (maximum) 4.0% Minerals: Calcium (minimum) 17.5% Calcium (maximum) 21.0% Phosphorus 14.0% Salt (minimum) 0.10% Salt (max imum) 0.60% Chloride 0.10% Magnesium 0.02% Vitamins: Vitamin D 400 IU
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 1 0 93 Green sea turtle with fibropapilloma disease, C. Harms, NCSU Green sea turtle with fibropapilloma disease, L MLC Green sea turtle with fibropapilloma disease, L MLC A PPENDIX H Q UARANTINE All sea turtles should initially be treated as quarantine patients when they enter a rehabilitation facility. I f on the advice of the attending veteri narian, a turtle requires isola tion from others due to fibropap illo ma tosis 13 (see photo inserts) or other disease, or other reasons requir ing necessary precautions the following guidelines are offered. In the special case of fibropapilloma disease prot ocol s developed by t he Bermuda Turtle Project are appended and may be useful Basic Quarantine Guidelines Due to the lack of specific quarantine procedures for marine turtles, the text on this page is adapt ed from the AZA Recommended Quarantine Proce dures (AZA, 20 1 0). Although these precautions are broad and are generally meant for collected species at zoos and aquariums, the basic ideas and themes can be adapted for sea turtle rehabilitation : A facility should be available which can provide for t he isolation of new ly acquired turtles in such a manner as to prohibit cross contamination resulting from physical contact, disease transmission, aerosol spread, waste drainage, or the reuse of untreated water. Tanks must be located in a way that prevent s the spread of any disease from animal to animal through natural water movement and at a distance from other penned animals deemed adequate by the supervising veterinarian. If a receiving institution does not have appropriate isolation facilities, the sta ff should arrange for quarantine at an acceptable alternate site or only receive animals which do not require quarantin e. Attendants should be designated to care only for quarantine animals or to attend quarantined animals only after fulfilling their re sponsibilities for others. If care is given to quarantine animals, a three day minimum should be enforced until allowable contact with non quarantine animals. Attendants provided with quarantine clothing and washing facilities de signed to prevent diseas e transmission may be allowed to attend to non quarantine animals after working with quarantined specimens if approved by the supervising veterinarian. Equipment used to feed and clean animals in quarantine should be used only with those animals or should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, as designated by the supervising veterinarian, before use with post quarantine animals. Institutions must take precautions to minimize the risk of exposure of animal personnel to zoonotic diseases that may be prese nt in newly acquired animals if the attending veterinarian deems that such risk exists. These precautions should include using disinfectant foot baths, wearing appropriate pro tective clothing, and minimizing physical contact. 13 A comprehensive bibliography of marine turtle fibropapilloma disease is available at www.turtles.org/nmfsbib.htm
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 1 0 94 S AMPLE PROTOCOL : COURTESY OF THE B ERMUDA T URTLE P ROJECT 14 Sea turtle fibropapilloma disease (FP) is a debilitating and sometimes fatal disease of sea turtles. It is seen most often in green turtles but is also known to occur in loggerheads and ridleys It is currently unknown fro m Bermuda. However, because so little is known about the natural routes of transmission of FP, it is best a t this time to work on the assumption that it is highly communicable 15 and take appro priate precautions. Researchers should make every effort to ke ep the disease out of populations where it does not occur. The following protocol has been developed to reduce the possibility of fibro papilloma becoming established in Bermuda and is set forward to guide the handling of potentially infected turtle onbo ard the research vessel Calamus Note : There is no nesting in Bermuda; thus, sea turtles are only handled following capture during organized offshore research expeditions. Recognizing fibropapilloma disease : Fibropapilloma disease is most easily recogni zed 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 flipper s. 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 texture like a head of cauliflower, but may also be smooth. These tumors are well vas cularized 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 b e cleared of tissue and the punch and tag applicators disinfected (for 20 minutes) with mild bleach solution (or other appropriate disinfectant; e.g., Betadine alcohol, chlorhexidine) 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 betwee n animals. Use exam gloves when performing various procedures on turtles as it is difficult to keep your hands clean under field conditions. When gloves are not available, frequent hand wiping with sanitizing hand wipes is manda tory 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 should 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 scrubbed tho roughly 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 survive for long periods outside of the host, especially if it is kept wet or moist. Thus, thorough treatment of all pos sibly infected surfaces with detergents, disinfectants, or prolonged drying would be required to make certain that the disease would not be tr ansmitted. 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. 14 Source: M eylan P., A. Meylan and J. Gray. 2003. Procedures Manual for the Bermuda Turtle Project. Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo. 37 pp. Used with permission. 15 very conservative.
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 1 0 95 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 ratio ; maximum width of tissue is 1 cm for appropr iate fixation) without being frozen 16 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 govern ment 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 a nimal should be isolated and appropriate samples taken for assessment. Afflicted animals may be sent to an appropriate facility such as The Turtle Hospi ta l in Marathon Key, Florida for further observation and possible rehabili tation It is very import ant to confirm any possible cases of FP. This can best be done by collecting biopsies for complete pathological evaluation 17 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 stranded animal with sus picious 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 de scription recorded of the tumors, i ncluding measurements. If the turtle is fresh, a necropsy should be performed provided that the necropsy can be done under isolation conditions to avoid contaminating facilities where turtles are kept. If a complete necropsy cannot be performed, then a s ample 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 tim e 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 loca t ion and take biopsies of suspect tis sue 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 regarding euthan asia 18 or transport of the animal to an outside facili ty for care 16 Frozen samples can however, be used for PCR confirmation of FP and other skin lesions (T. Norton, DVM, pers. comm) 17 Only trained individuals should biopsy FP lesions. Lesion b iopsies are painful a local anesthetic should be used. Biops ied FP lesions may bleed heavily, pressure with sterile gauze may help stop the bleeding (T. Norton, DVM, pers. comm). 18 This Husbandry Manual offers guidelines for euthanasia (see Appendix I: Euthanasia in Sea Turtles ), but, especially in areas where FP is already documented in the wild, these turtles can be treated, cared for, and, ideally, released. While in captivity, every effort should be made to maintain a separate water and filtration system from other resident sea turtles. While there are no docu me nted cases of water borne transmission of FP, or transmission resulting from direct contact with an infected animal, we recommend that until researchers have a better understanding of this oft en fatal disease, for which there is no known cure, strict pre cautions be emphasized at all levels. One strategy is to always work on non afflicted turtles first, then FP turtles followed by decontamination. Also important are the following: gloves are mandatory for veterinary staff when handling FP turtles; all la undry, 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 turtles. Experience in Florida with reha bilitation suggests that all FP turtles undergoing rehabilitation should remain at the re habilitation facility for a period of one year following removal of the last tumor t o e nsure that re growth does not take place ; notwithstanding, others argue that th is is costly and subjects the animal, unnecessarily, to the ongoing stress of captivity.
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 1 0 96 A PPENDIX I E UTHANASIA IN S EA T URTLES Sea turtles are highly adaptive. They can survive unthinkable traumas and continue to live pro ductive lives. Euthanasia should only be considered in the worst of cases ; for example, when an interrup ted poaching event has resulted in the amputation of all four flippers or a blunt trauma renders the turtle comatose and unresponsive. The unique ectothermic physiology of reptiles and their ability to maintain brain function under long periods of anoxia m ake humane euthanasia of this group a chal lenge. For example, even when the cranial nerves and brain are deprived of a blood supply, certain reflexes such as limb withdrawal can persist for some time. f an animal, using a method that produces near instantaneous unconsciousness and rapid death without evident pain or distress, or using anesthesia 1993). 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, The 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 b rain by penetrating the skull i n the middle and just posterior to the eyes (see Figures 1 4), with a captive bolt. A penetrating captive bolt pistol (used to kill livestock) is an effective, but expensive, tool powered by gunpowder charges or compresse The same result can be achieved under field conditions with a metal 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 prepared for the animal to thrash. Note : A n approach with a bolt from the top of the head can result in the fracture of t he skull, often exposing brain like tissue. This is salt gland tissue (see Figure 4). The brain is located in a boney chamber beneath the muscles underlying the skull. To ensure complete destruction of the brain, the captive bolt technique should be fo forward through the foramen magnum into the cranial cavity using a twisting motion. If the neuro
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 1 0 97 cranium is fractured, pithing can be pe rformed through that opening. Note : Pithing requires consider able skill I t can be bloody and traumatic. Professionals caution that it should only be attempted after acquiring knowledge of anatomy using skeletons, and after a period of training includ ing practice on dead animals, because this method c an cause pain and suffering if the proper regions of the brain are not completely destroyed (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 carefully 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 it (this method is ineffective and inhumane). Humane decapitation is unlikely to be possible in sea turtles larger than very young juveniles, and is not recom mended. Exsanguination (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 regular gun recommended under f ield conditions unless the gun is in the hands of a trained and skilled shooter. Terminating a sea turtle, a protected animal in many countries, may carry legal consequences Al ways 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 dispo sed 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 cutaway (R) revealing the sense organs The ar row indicates the location of the brain the target for penetration o f the captive bolt deep within the skull and posterior to the eyes Sources : http://www.skulls skeletons.com (L); Wyne ken, 200 1 (R) B rain B rain
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 1 0 98 Figure 3. The l ocation of the brain in sea turtles No te 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 (Spai Harm s
Bluvias a nd Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 1 0 99 Source : e xcerpted from The American Veterinary Medical Association Guidelines on Euthanasia (AVMA, 2007) http://www.avma.org/issues/animal_welfare/euthan asia.pdf WIL DLIFE 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 p oint, and killing may be necessary. Conditions found in the field, although more challenging than those that are controlled, do not in any way reduce or minimize the ethical obligation of the responsible individual to reduce pain and distress to the greate st 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 devel oping humane protocols for euthanasia o f wildlife. I n the case of free ranging wildlife, personnel may not be trained 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 approach ing the animal within a practical darting distance may not be possible. In these cases, the only prac tical means of anima l 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. P ersonnel should be sufficiently skilled to be accur ate, 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 traditi onal species (zoo) in close human contact are very different from those of domestic animals. These animals are usually frightened and dis tressed. Thus, minimizing the amount, degree, and/ or cognition of human contact during procedures that require handli ng is of utmost importance. Hand ling these animals often requires general anes thesia, which provides loss of consciousness and which relieves distress, anxiety, apprehension, and perception of pain. Even though the animal is under general anesthesia, min imizing auditory, visual, and tactile stimulation will help ensure the most stress free euthanasia possible. With use of general anesthesia, there are more methods for euthanasia available. A 2 stage euthanasia process involving general anesthesia, tranqu ilization, 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 distre ss 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 t o those working with injured or live trapped, free ranging animals should take capture, transport, handling distress, and possible carcass consumption into consideration when asked to assist with euthanasia. Alternatives to 2 stage euthanasia using anes thesia 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, a lthough slower in producing loss of consciousness, should be considered preferable over intravenous injection, if restraint will cause increased distress to the animal or danger to the operator. Wildlife speci es may be encountered under a vari ety of sit uations. Euthanasia of the same species under different conditions may require different techniques. Even in a controlled setting, an ex tremely fractious large animal may threaten the safety of the practitioner, bystanders, and itself. When safety is i n 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 accep table form of euthanasia. For this technique to be humane, the operato r must ensure they will gain control over the animal and perform euthanasia before distress develops.
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 1 0 100 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 euthanasia of am phi bians, fishes and reptiles have been describ ed. 13,51,186,187 Literature Cited 13 Cooper JE, Ewbank R, Platt C, et al. Euthanasia of amphi bians 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 guide lines approved by the American Society of Mammalogists. J Mammal 1987; 68(Suppl 4):1 18. 181 use of wild birds in research. Auk 1988; 105(Suppl):1A 41A. 182 American Soci ety of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, Herpetologist League, Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles. Guidelines for the use of live amphibians and reptiles in field research. J Herpetol 1987; 21(suppl 4):1 14. 183 American Society of Ichthyol ogists and Herpetologists, American Fisheries Society, American Institute of Fisheries Re search Biologists. Guidelines for use of fishes in field research. Copeia Suppl 1987; 1 12. 184 Cailliet GM. Fishes: a field guide and laboratory manual on their str ucture, identification, and natural history Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth, 1986. 186 Zwart P, deVries HR, Cooper JE. The humane killing of fishes, amphibia, reptiles and birds. Tijdsehr Diergeneeskd 1989; 114:557 565. 187 Burns R. Considerations in the euth anasia of reptiles, fish and amphibians, in Proceedings AAZV, WDA, AAWV Joint Con ference 1995; 243 249.
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 1 0 101 NOTES
Bluvias and Eckert (20 10 ) Marine Turtle Husbandry Manual WIDECAST Technical Report No. 1 0 102 NOTES
of the Wider Caribbean Region, human and sea turtle The Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST) is a regional coalition of experts and a 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 Con servation for Sustainable Development in the Wider Caribbean (Santo Domingo, 26 29 August on for achieving 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 mec hanism and 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 i n decision making and project leadership. Emphasizing initiatives that strengthen capacity within participating countries and institutions, the network develops and replicates pilot projects, provides technical assistance, enables coor dination in the c ollection, sharing and use of information and data, and promotes strong linkages between science, policy, and public participation in the design and implementation of conser vation actions. Working 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 consump tive, do not undermine sea turtle survival over the lon g term. With Country Coordinators in more than 40 Caribbean nations and territories, WIDECAST is uniquely able to facilitate complementary conservation action across range States, including strengthening legislation, encouraging community involvement, and raising public awareness of Caribbean nations have adopted a national sea turtle management plan, poaching and illegal product sales have been dramatically redu 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 ca n join us! Visit www.widecast.org for more information. WWW.WIDECAST.ORG