Caring for Stranded Marine Animals
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National Marine Life Center Paper Published in Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine

Claw swimming. The white markings are "SSD" cream used to treat scrapes and injuries.The National Marine Life Center (NMLC) is pleased to announce the publication of a peer reviewed scientific paper, written by Dr. Charles Rogers Williams, in the field of wildlife rehabilitation, veterinary care, and the One Health initiative. The article, Surgical Removal of an Abscess Associated with Fusarium solani from a Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys kempii), appears in the latest edition of the Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine. Dr. Michele Sims, Dr. Lois Roth-Johnson, and Dr. Brian Wickes co-authored the study.

Click here to read the abstract of the paper.

Claw undergoes a CT exam at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Claw undergoes a CT exam at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Computerized Scanning and Imaging Facility.

Case reports are important to NMLC’s veterinary program as the organization seeks to both provide help to stranded sea turtles and marine mammals and also give context to their work and support the larger initiative of “One Health.” “One Health” refers to the tenet that combines human health, veterinary medicine, and the health of the environment. We are all interconnected, and what affects any one aspect will also impact the others.

The lesion on Claw's front flipper.

The lesion on Claw’s front flipper.

The peer reviewed scientific paper was based on an unlikely connection between an eye infection breakout in people and a sea turtle being treated at the National Marine Life Center. The cause of the infection that required surgery in this particular endangered sea turtle was also responsible for a 2005 outbreak of human eye infections due to contaminated contact lens cleaning solutions. This coincided with the time the turtle (nicknamed “Claw”) was being treated at NMLC.

An x-ray of Claw's front flipper.

An x-ray of Claw’s front flipper.

“While our patients don’t wear contact lens and I don’t think the two were directly related, fungi—unlike many viruses—do not necessarily respect species boundaries. Fungi can infect both animals and humans, and can also be found in the environment,” said Dr. Williams, senior author, and NMLC’s attending veterinarian and director of science.

“It’s just a means of underscoring that even marine animal rehabilitation does not happen in a vacuum. Our primary mission is to provide aid and relieve suffering to stranding sea turtles and marine mammals, but our mission is also much greater. When animals strand, they are telling us something about their health and about the health of the environment. With each case, we have to listen and discover the deeper story,” stated Dr. Williams. “We also have a responsibility to disseminate what we learn at NMLC, and we do so through our web presence, weekly Case Rounds, presentations and posters, and, in the most formal way, through publication.” Dr. Williams added, “I was happy to get this study out there, but even happier to know we played a role in getting Claw back out into the wild where he belongs, and in good health.”

Kemp's ridley sea turtle release on Cape Cod.

Acknowledgements:
We’d like to thank the co-authors on this paper.  We’d also like to extend a special thank you to the Computerized Scanning and Imaging Facility at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Dozens of volunteers were involved in caring for Claw, and we greatly appreciate their hard work and dedication. Finally, we’d like to thank all the donors who helped fund Claw’s rehabilitation as well as the ongoing rehabilitation and science programs at the National Marine Life Center.

2 Comments

  1. An excellent example of the Turtle Guy’s saying, “saving the world one turtle at a time.” Such an important part of the NMLC mission.

  2. Good work once again!!

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