MIAMI – A loggerhead turtle whose left fin was destroyed in a shark attack is rehabbing at Zoo Miami’s new Sea Turtle Hospital, where veterinarians were able to save more than 100 of her eggs after she was rescued.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission sent the turtle to the hospital on May 22 after she was found at the Port St. Lucie power plant, Ron Magill, the zoo's communications director said.
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An ultrasound determined that the 50-year-old, 388-pound (176-kilograms) turtle was pregnant. She also had scars on the shell that indicated it had been previously hit by a boat and attacked by another shark earlier in life, officials said.
The hospital staff stabilized the turtle, dubbed Baymax, in a recovery tank and gave her fluids, vitamins and food that included squid and crab. Then, on Memorial Day, she was moved to a sand-filled pen and given calcium and oxytocin to stimulate her labor. By Tuesday morning she had deposited over 100 eggs. Then they prepared to treat her shark bite injury.
During a seven-hour surgery a team led by Zoo Miami associate veterinarian Marisa Bezjian and assisted by chief veterinarian Gwen Myers, the exposed bone was removed and the surrounding wound was cleaned and treated. More eggs also emerged, and like the others, they were taken in a bin of sand to the Miami-Dade Parks Sea Turtle Conservation Program, to incubate in a man-made nest, Magill said.
Baymax provided an early launch for the hospital, which recently passed inspection and had permission to accept sick and injured turtles, but won’t officially open until next month, Magill said.
While it’s not uncommon for sea turtles to lose limbs to sharks or boat strike, many adjust and lead productive lives. That’s the hope for Baymax. Officials said she’ll be closely monitored for several weeks until she’s healthy enough to return to the wild.