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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Damned If You Don't: Saving Turtles One Animal At A Time

["Damned If You Don't" are occasional discoveries that I think you'd regret not seeing.]

There's a terrific, encouraging feature by Amy Sutherland for on rescue efforts that begin at Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts, where Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtles wash up after getting trapped in the cold bay waters.

They're mostly suffering from hypothermia and dehydration, and many are already dead or have one flipper in the grave by the time scientists or volunteers find them. But these folks do what they can, and in many cases save these endangered individuals (a tagged survivor turned up last summer to nest in Texas).
“Welcome to the real world, Bud,” a volunteer in surgical scrubs says to a turtle that she plucks out of a box. She lays the seemingly lifeless animal on an examining table. Jill Gary, a biologist with the aquarium, sinks a needle into the back of its neck and draws out thick, maroon-colored blood. Gary squirts yellow antiseptic into the animal’s eyes and checks the cornea for scratches. The volunteer has been holding a monitor to the turtle’s heart. “I’ve had only one heartbeat so far,” she says.

Gary inserts a rectal thermometer into the turtle and the animal springs to life....
This is my favorite "did you know...?" passage:
Charlie Innis, the aquarium’s head veterinarian, says the animals die if they warm up too quickly. As the turtle’s temperature rises, pathogenic bacteria that have lain dormant in its body also revive. The turtle’s immune system, compromised by hypothermia, isn’t up to the fight. The turtles are also susceptible to fungal infections. The main danger is pneumonia—about 20 percent of the turtles have it when they arrive, and perhaps 25 percent will contract it here.

The biologists have learned it’s best to warm the turtles by about five degrees a day....
As you can see, it's well-written and informative, and there's a (sappily sentimental) video component, too.

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