■ BY SUE ERWIN
The Boca Grande Sea Turtle Association reported the first known hatch of the season on Tuesday, July 3. The nest was laid on May 7, so it incubated for 57 days.
“The hatchlings were disoriented, but some did make it to the water safely,” said BGSTA Board Member Mel Csank. “We’ve had a significant number of nonlive strandings over the last week, including 3 green turtles and a Kemp’s ridley found on First Street, and two loggerheads.”
A juvenile Kemp’s ridley sea turtle – one of the most critically endangered species of sea turtles – was found near the Causeway in Boca Grande on June 28. The turtle was acting very lethargic and was transported by BGSTA patrol members to the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) facility on Sanibel Island. Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota was at capacity at the time.
“On presentation, the turtle was quiet but alert, with neurologic deficits (weakened ability to move flippers, delayed reflexes), and it had superficial corneal ulcers in both eyes,” said Dr. Robin Bast, staff veterinarian at CROW. “Initial bloodwork revealed a mild anemia. Clinical signs were consistent with brevetoxicosis, also known as red tide poisoning.”
The turtle began receiving intravenous (IV) fluid treatment shortly after admission. Topical antibiotics were used to treat the corneal ulcers. After a few days in the hospital, the young turtle has made improvements. The corneal ulcers have resolved, and the turtle’s mentation and neurologic symptoms have improved. It is now bright and alert in the tank but has yet to regain its appetite.
It is expected to make a full recovery.
The Association is looking for some kindhearted folks who live locally, have a boat and would be interested in transporting stranded turtles to the facility on Sanibel Island.
There are no turtles in need of transporting at the moment; this is a request for the future, for when turtles are rescued.
Currently, transporting a turtle to CROW takes about four hours (round trip) by car, so the trip would be much shorter by boat and less stressful on sick or injured turtles.
This is a fairly rare event, so it would not be a regular commitment.
Optimally, the organization would like to find a few boaters whom volunteers could call in an emergency.
If you are a turtle lover with a boat and you’re interested in helping, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
As of June 29, the Association reported 359 Caretta caretta (loggerhead) turtle nests on the island. There were 333 reported false crawls (when a turtle comes up onto the beach but does not lay a nest). No Chelonia mydas (green) turtle nests have been discovered so far this year.
Turtle patrol volunteers would like to remind everyone to keep pets on leashes,
If you come across a sea turtle that is stranded or dead, or if you see someone disturbing a nest or turtle, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) at (888) 404-FWCC.
Go to MyFWC.com/SeaTurtle for more information on Florida’s sea turtles, and click on “Research,” then “Nesting” for more data on sea turtle nesting.
To report stranded sea turtles and marine mammals in Lee County directly to FWC, call (888) 404-3922. Mote Marine stranding investigations program number is (941) 988-0212.