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NICHOLS



LOGGERHEAD

Caretta caretta

Juvenile


ADMIT
  June 25, 2012
RELEASED

Weight   kg  
SCL:  cm
SCW:  cm

THE STRANDING This turtle was admitted with a carapace fracture consistent with a boat propeller strike. In addition, the right flipper was tangled in a crab pot line and is severely injured. The line was wrapped around the flipper and twisted in around, so that she crawls on the wrong side of the flipper.

THE TREATMENT The flipper wound is old and if the flipper can be saved the bones will have to be reset.  Amputation is a possibility.
She was placed in deeper water after during the first week of rehab and this seems to be comfortable for the turtle.
She is eating on her own.
July 13, 2012
Nichols was escorted up I-40 to the NC State University School of Veterinary Medicine, where the surgical team lead by Drs. Roe and Grafinger were ready to help.  Our interns remarked on the skillful genius of Drs. Roe and Grafinger with respectively cleaning her back injury and suturing her flipper together again.
photos courtesy Charlie Lynch

 
CT scans of carapace, that missing piece, top left, is huge; and flipper trouble

Post surgery, Nichols and interns David Allred and Charlie Lynch (possibly)

Nichols was transported to the vet school by summer interns Charlie Lynch and David Allred. Her flipper was broken, mangled and twisted, and she had a deep crushing injury to her carapace near her spine. Although she had to be in pain she was soldiering on at the hospital, swimming and eating while she awaited her date with Drs. Grafinger and Roe. Both of these surgeons have worked on our patients before and are incredibly skilled at successfully piecing sea turtles back together.

One of the very cool things about being an intern with us is that you’ll do and see things that you never could have imagined: Charlie and David suited up and entered the surgical suite with our girl. After she was peacefully sleeping they watched the surgeons carefully clean the wound, removing all of the necrotic tissue and bone that had been pushed into the body cavity. Once the gunk was gone her collapsed lung inflated and everyone could literally take a deep breath!

Then it was on to the flipper. We could see that the outside was a mess, but without a look inside we could only hope that it could be saved.  The X-ray was quite graphic, but the vets were undeterred as they confidently reset the bones and sutured the wound. The surgery was now complete and it was time to wake Nichols from her slumber and get her settled in the car for her trip back home.

Her recovery since her return has been amazing to watch. The repair on her carapace requires frequent flushing, repacking and a special bandage to keep it dry. While we had hoped she would take it easy on her reset flipper she insists on using it to navigate around and around for hours. She’s probably thrilled to find out that it actually “works” again! And she’s got a great appetite now that she’s feeling so much better.

Nichols is just one of the many who benefit from our long-term collaboration with the vet school, and the close relationship we have with our turtle vets Dr. Craig Harms (at CMAST) and Dr. Greg Lewbart at the University. As I write this another patient, “Holden III” is back home from yesterday’s successful surgery on her horrendous head injury. Hopefully her recovery will be just as complete as “Holden II’s” a patient from several years ago. His injury was almost identical and he was successfully rehabilitated, released and hopefully has been leading a happy sea turtle life.


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