Rooney came to our Animal Rescue team as a cold-stunned turtle, and suffered several cuts and wounds while he was stunned – these usually occur as the turtles are tossed in the surf and against rock jetties/sandy beaches. Most of these wounds healed well, with the exception of one very deep abscess behind his right front flipper.
Our veterinarians managed the abscess with frequent cleaning and antibiotic therapy and even used a unique item to help combat the infection – honey. Honey has bacteriostatic properties, meaning it stops bacteria from reproducing, and can be purchased as a medical treatment in several different forms – including gauze and wound dressings. While honey is used in many species to help heal wounds, Rooney required a little more than what the bees could provide.
Husbandry staff and veterinarians had started treating a chronic abscess that Rooney developed with honey, but quickly realized that the abscess needed to be removed all together. A soft tissue surgeon came in to assist our veterinarians with the abscess removal.
As you can imagine, being sedated for exams and surgeries is a very different experience from what these animals encounter in the wild, so we are very anxious to get Rooney back into his natural habitat where he can swim freely and forage for his favorite foods like blue crabs and squid. While in rehabilitation with the National Aquarium, Rooney gained 19.3 pounds, and is currently consuming a diet of blue crabs, squid, shrimp and lean fish!
We packed up the trusty truck with supplies and our two sea turtles, and headed to the warmer southern shore waters of Virginia Beach. Virginia Aquarium’s Stranding team was set to release two loggerhead sea turtles of their own, so we asked if they wouldn’t mind our team joining them for a few days. The four loggerheads were met with a crowd of over 300 people who came to bid them well wishes and safe travels as they head back into their natural environment!
Each turtle was accompanied by a satellite tag and an acoustic tag for tracking purposes and research opportunities. Read more about Rooney's travels and see a tracking map, here.
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