After a successful surgery by Dr Ian Walker to remove a hook it had ingested, a green sea turtle is well on its way to a full recovery and is expected to be released back into the wild in the coming weeks.
Dr Walker explained they are just waiting for the turtle’s incisions to completely heal, and then they will release the turtle back into the sea at the location it was initially found.
X-ray showing the hook in the turtle before surgery:
The turtle was brought in with fishing line coming out of its mouth, and had ingested the entire hook. The hook was so far down its throat, the Aquarium staff were left with no other choice but to cut the fishing line leaving the hook inside the turtle.
Dr Walker said they have had previous instances where turtles have passed the hooks ‘out the other end’, so monitored the turtle to see if this would occur.
However one week into his stay at the Aquarium, the turtle stopped eating and Dr Walker and his staff made the decision to go in and remove the hook, which they located in the intestine.
Photo #1 of the surgery in progress:
The turtle is around 3/4 years old and its gender is not known, with Dr Walker explaining that at this age the only real concrete way to determine that is to perform a DNA test.
Dr Walker said that they have recently seen more cases of sea turtles being brought in having ingested fishing lines and hooks, however he could not say whether that was as more turtles are ingesting them, or whether the public is acting more often to deliver the turtles to the Aquarium to receive medical care.
Photo #2 of the surgery in progress:
The Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo has a full Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre to care for animals injured in the wild, and frequently tends to animals of various species and releases most of them back into the wild once they are fully recuperated.
In a few cases when the animals injuries have rendered them unable to function and survive in the wild, the animals are permanently kept and cared for at the Aquarium.
The hook shown after being removed from the turtle:
Last year BZS research scientist Mark Outerbridge, coordinator of the Bermuda Turtle Project, said that entanglement is one of the greatest threats to Bermuda’s resident sea turtles, while the other is getting hit by boats. He said both types of injury have caused over 75 sea turtles to be taken to the Aquarium for treatment or analysis over the past 25 years.
The Bermuda Zoological Society [BZS] is the locally registered support charity for the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo, and runs fundraisers and events to assist the Aquarium in their work.
- All photos courtesy of Dr Walker and the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo