News / USA

    Trauma Center Treats Sea Turtles

    Georgia hospital tries to improve chances for loggerhead sea turtles

    Ziva, a female loggerhead turtle being treated by veterinarian Terry Norton, was injured after being hit by a boat.
    Ziva, a female loggerhead turtle being treated by veterinarian Terry Norton, was injured after being hit by a boat.

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Philip Graitcer

    This month, on beaches up and down the U.S. East Coast, tens of thousands of newly-hatched loggerhead sea turtles are emerging from the sand and crawling into the Atlantic. Very few of these baby turtles will survive, but a hospital in Georgia is trying to improve their chances.

    Jekyll Island, Georgia, is best known as a summer vacation spot. But it’s also an important rehabilitation destination for hundreds of sick or injured sea turtles that wash up on Atlantic coast beaches each year.

    “Twenty percent of the cases are boat strike-related injuries," says Terry Norton, a veterinarian who is director of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center. "We get fishing line and fishhook-related injuries. There’s a disease called fibropapilloma, caused by the herpes virus, that can cause tumors on the skin. We get some real debilitated turtles.”

    This loggerhead turtle is missing a flipper due to a shark injury.
    This loggerhead turtle is missing a flipper due to a shark injury.

    Many have survived encounters with predators like sharks that can bite off a turtle’s flipper or crack its shell.

    The operating room at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center looks like one you’d see at a major medical center for humans.

    There are bright surgical lights, stainless steel tables and an x-ray machine. The doctors and nurses wear blue surgical scrubs. This morning, Norton is treating Ziva, a 68-kilo female loggerhead turtle.

    “This is a turtle with a boat strike injury to the head and to her shell," he says. "She actually had a little abscess in the skull. These little Velcro patches are for putting weights because she floats asymmetrically so that helps her dive a little better and get around a little better.”

    Norton estimates that Ziva is 10-to-12 years old, which is young for a turtle. He says rehabilitating these injured or sick juveniles is vital to maintaining the worldwide sea turtle population.

    “They become sexually mature at 35 years of age. That makes it really significant when there’s adult mortality. It took a lot of turtles to reach that point. It takes about 4,000 hatchlings and eggs to get to that one animal, so all these mature animals are very important to the population.”

    Unfortunately, Ziva’s injuries are so extensive that she’ll never recover enough to be released back into the ocean. Instead, she’ll go to an aquarium to become a turtle ambassador as part of an educational exhibit.

    Duval, a female loggerhead turtle, is measured by staff at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.
    Duval, a female loggerhead turtle, is measured by staff at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.

    Since sea turtles are found worldwide, Norton’s staff works with conservation groups in India, Pakistan, Costa Rica and St. Kitts, teaching them how to protect and care for injured turtles.

    Ten of thousands of the tourists who visit Jekyll Island each year come to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center to learn about the life cycle of turtles.

    A highlight of their visit is the rehabilitation pavilion, where sea turtles, land turtles and even alligators can be seen recovering after their treatments.

    “Out here they are all in quarantine areas…so since we are similar to a hospital setting, we try to keep as much under control as we can," says David Zailo, one of the center’s guides. "By separating the animals from one another, it’s easier to treat them. It’s easier to mark down what they feed and it's easier to mark down their progress as they’re healing.”

    Visitors who really want to get close to turtles can join the center’s staff for an early morning turtle walk on a nearby protected stretch of beach.

    Earlier this summer, dozens of female loggerheads - each about one meter in diameter - lumbered out of the ocean, dug nests in the sand and laid hundreds of eggs.

    Now, those eggs are hatching and a lucky few visitors will get to see the baby loggerheads crawl across the beach and into the ocean, to begin their perilous journey to adulthood.

    You May Like

    Russia Sees Brexit Impact Widespread but Temporary

    Officials, citizens react to Britain’s vote to exit European Union with mix of pleasure, understanding and concern

    Obama Encourages Entrepreneurs to Seek Global Interconnection

    President tells entrepreneurs at global summit at Stanford University to find mentors, push ahead with new ideas on day after Britain voters decide to exit EU

    Video Some US Gun Owners Support Gun Control

    Defying the stereotype, Dave Makings says he'd give up his assault rifle for a comprehensive program to reduce gun violence

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora