It was a whirlwind winter & spring at NMLC and the staff and volunteers have been very busy taking care of the patients in our new marine animal hospital! We have had some very interesting and sometimes complicated cases in our first six months of serving the marine animals of Massachusetts again! Let me introduce and update you on the patients we have had in the hospital so far. We are ready for spring and hopefully the release of some more of our patients soon.
Townsend is a juvenile male harbor seal that stranded on September 6, 2012 in Old Orchard Beach, Maine suffering from respiratory distress and cuts to his face and chin. He was transferred to us from the University of New England’s Marine Animal Rehabilitation Center on October 9, 2012. To read about his arrival at NMLC click here. About a week after his arrival we noticed a discharge from Townsend’sleft ear and started
to suspect that he suffered from middle ear disease. We confirmed this diagnosis through a CT (computed tomography) scan at the Computerized Scanning and Imaging (CSI) Facility at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.To read more about his CT scan results click here.
In November Townsend underwent his first surgery in an effort to resolve his condition. Dr. Ed Kochin at the Cape Cod Veterinary Specialists agreed to perform the surgery called a Lateral Bulla Osteotomy. This surgery involved drilling a small hole in the Bulla (bone of the middle ear) and cleaning out the infected material. Townsend made it through that surgery with flying colors thanks to the incredible anesthesia
team at CCVS led by Dr. Louisa Rahilly. A few weeks following the surgery Townsend was taken back to WHOI for another CT scan to assess his progress. During that CT it was discovered that Townsend had suffered some complications from the surgery, specifically a small circular piece of the Bulla had fractured around the site of the surgical access point leaving a sequestrum (piece of floating bone) and some residual infection.
After some discussions and information exchange with the National Marine Fisheries Service, the National Marine Life Center was given permission to move forward with a second surgery that had never been performed on a seal before. The procedure called a Total Ear Canal Ablasion (TECA) and Latera Bulla Osteotomy was performed on April 10, 2013. This surgery, also done by Dr. Kochin & the CCVS team, removed Townsend left ear including the ear canal, the sequestrum (bone fragment) and the remaining infectious material. During the surgery it was discovered that Townsend had a polyp in his left ear canal which may have contributed to the disease and complications with healing after the first surgery.
Townsend spent about a week in our dry holding room getting extensive wound treatments until Dr. Rogers cleared him to return to his pool. The wound seems to be healing well now and Townsend was removed from antibiotics this week. He will remain at NMLC until the wound is completely healed. We will conduct one more CT scan of his ear to ensure that their are no air pockets that could cause complications with his ability to dive, and we will conduct a hearing test on his remaining ear to ensure he can be released back into the wild.
Stay tuned for more on Townsend soon. If you would like to adopt Townsend to support his rehabilitation please click here.
Major Margaret “Hotlips” Houlihan
Hotlips was admitted into our hospital on Monday, November 12th. She was found by the Army Corps of Engineers along the Cape Cod Canal in serious condition, was picked up by the International Fund For Animal Welfare’s (IFAW) Marine Mammal Rescue Team with the assistance of our Animal Care Coordinator and was our first directly admitted patient in the new hospital. To read more about her intake and how she got her name click here.
This young seal was thin, lethargic, and had severe wounds on her face surrounding her mouth a nose. The infected sores were of unknown origin and unlike anything we or our partner organizations had ever seen before. They caused large portions of tissue on her face, including her mouth, cheeks, and nose to die and slough off. Our main concern was the damage to her nose,
which we thought might hinder her ability to seal off the opening to dive. Hotlips underwent intensive wound treatment, and received a regiment of pain relievers and antibiotics. She turned the corner and started eating on her own the day after Thanksgiving. Her attitude changed and she was a very feisty animal from that point onward.
After a few tests in a kiddie pool she joined Townsend in the large seal pool and proved to us all how
resilient she was. Despite her permanent smile, she was able to close her nose and dive with no problems. Hotlips stayed with us into January to gain weight and allow her wounds to fully heal and on January 13, 2013 she was released back into the ocean to the cheers of over 300 people at Scussatt Beach, in Sandwich, MA. Hotlips was our first
success story from the new marine animal hospital and she will hold a special place in the hearts of our staff and volunteers forever. To adopt Hotlips and support the rehabilitation of other seals like her click here.
Howland is a grey seal that was rescued from Round Hill Beach in South Dartmouth on Thursday April 4, 2013 in cooperation with the IFAW Marine Mammal Rescue Team. He arrived at NMLC in critical condition with very low glucose levels. He was immediately placed on fluid and antibiotic treatments and began to improve. His case has been pretty up and down with some scary turns where we thought he might not make it. His glucose levels crashed twice on us after his initial arrival and it was quite a battle to stabilize them. He had a heavy parasite load as well, which did not help his cause. After he was treated for seal lice, and intestinal worms he started to eat well on his own and put on weight.
Eight Kemp’s ridley sea turtle patients arrived at the National Marine Life Center on November 29, 2012. All eight animals stranded on Cape Cod beaches this November as part of the record cold stun season with over 300 individual turtles stranding. Cold-stunning is a form of severe hypothermia that impacts these cold-blooded reptiles as the water starts to chill. To read more about cold stunning and the admit of these 8 patient please click here.
Stranded at Crow’s Pasture in Dennis, MA on November 6, 2012. Upon admit she weighed 1.6 kg (3.5 lb). Topsy was named in honor and memory of Gratia “Topsy” Montgomery, whose bequest to the National Marine Life Center allowed us to begin building our new hospital. Topsy is doing well at NMLC, she currently weighs 3.5kg and was actually cleared for release in March, however she suffered a bite wound from another turtle and had to be placed back on antibiotics. The wound has since healed and she is once again off antibiotics. Our four remaining sea turtle patients will be released together and Topsy will remain in rehabilitation until all four have been cleared for release. Watch our website for information regarding upcoming release events. To adopt Topsy and help support her rehabilitation click here.
Gerald stranded at Sandy Neck in Sandwich, MA on November 7, 2012. He started off with us at 3.1 kg (6.8 lb) and now weighs in at 6.2kg, he is the largest turtle in our group! Gerald was named in honor and memory of Gerald R., long-time NMLC supporter. Gerald was not quite ready for release in time for the Great Turtle Trek in April, he is one of the four remaining turtle patients at NMLC. He is recovering nicely and continues to improve all the time. Our four remaining sea turtle patients will be released together and Gerald will remain in rehabilitation until all four have been cleared for release. Watch our website for information regarding upcoming release events. To adopt Gerald and help support his rehabilitation click here.
Betsy stranded at Sandy Neck in Sandwich, MA on November 9, 2012. She weighed only 2.2 kg (4.8 lb) at intake and has since reached 5.6kg. Betsy was named in honor and memory of Elizabeth “Betsy” Hornor, NMLC co-founder and NMLC’s first Board Chair. We are monitoring Betsy’s blood values regularly as they slowly reach normal ranges and she can be cleared for release. Outwardly she is doing great, she is eating well, has no residual wounds or lesions, and is swimming and acting normally. Watching her blood values lets us ensure that she has had enough time to fully recover from the stress of cold stunning internally before going back out to the ocean. Our four remaining sea turtle patients will be released together and Betsy will remain in rehabilitation until all four have been cleared for release. Watch our website for information regarding upcoming release events. To adopt Betsy and help support her rehabilitation click here.
Walter stranded at Chapin Beach in Dennis, MA on November 9, 2012. He arrived at NMLC at a weight of 3.1 kg (6.8 lb) and grew to 5.5kg prior to his release. Walter was named in honor and memory of Walter Wentzell. long-time NMLC supporter. “Wild Walter”, as we liked to call him, completed his rehabilitation at NMLC and was transported south for release as part of the Great Sea Turtle Trek. He was a last minute addition to the transport list for this event being cleared for release just two days before the expedition. He was released with over 50 other turtles on April 7, 2013 at Little Talbot Island State Park in Jacksonville Florida. To adopt Walter and support the rehabilitation of other cold stunned sea turtles at NMLC click here.
Carolyn stranded at Mayflower Beach in Dennis, MA on November 10, 2012. She came to NMLC weighing 2.2 kg (4.8 lb) and was released at a weight of 4.4kg. Carolyn was named in honor and memory of Mrs. George R. Rowland, long-time NMLC supporter. Carolyn was proclaimed by our volunteers as the prettiest sea turtle. Her shell was a golden brown color with beautiful striations. Carolyn recovered quickly at NMLC and was another one of our turtles who took part in the Great Sea Turtle Trek. She was release with over 50 other turtles on April 7, 2013 at Little Talbot Island State Park in Jacksonville Florida. To adopt Carolyn and support the rehabilitation of other cold stunned sea turtles at NMLC click here.
Phoenix stranded at Marsh Boat Meadow in Eastham, MA on November 14, 2012. Phoenix was named by NMLC Director Kathy Zagzebski because she liked the symbolism! Phoenix had a small wound above her left eye in addition to the traditional cold stun symptoms. She was treated with triple antibiotic ointment on the eye, in addition to the antibiotics that all 8 of the turtles received upon arrival. Phoenix recovered and the wound to the eye healed and had no impact on her ability to see, swim, or eat. Phoenix was one of the larger turtles upon arrival at 2.9 kg (6.4 lb) and got up to 5.1kg prior to release. Phoenix headed south as part of the Great Sea Turtle Trek in April. She was release with over 50 other turtles on April 7, 2013 at Little Talbot Island State Park in Jacksonville Florida. To adopt Phoenix and support the rehabilitation of other cold stunned sea turtles at NMLC please click here.
Ernest stranded at Breakwater Beach in Brewster, MA on November 16, 2012. He is the smallest of our 8 turtles, weighing in at 1.5 kg (3.3 lb) upon arrival. Ernest was named in honor and memory of NMLC Animal Care Coordinator Kate Shaffer’s grandfather Ernest C. Labadie of Centerville, a decorated WWII paratrooper. Ernest suffered from severe osteolitic lesions (lesions on the joints of the flippers) as a result of his cold stunning. Most cold stunned sea turtles have this type of lesion to some extent, but Ernest’s were the worst.
We have taken several sets of x-rays throughout his rehabilitation to monitor their progress. Currently he is off all antibiotics, weighs in at 3.5kg, and his flipper lesions are almost completely resolved. Our four remaining sea turtle patients will be released together and Ernest will remain in rehabilitation until all of them have been cleared for release. Watch our website for information regarding upcoming release events. To adopt Ernest and help support his rehabilitation click here.
Papi stranded on Cold Storage Beach in East Dennis, MA on November 16,2012. He was another small individual and weighed 1.9 kg (4.2 lb) upon arrival at NMLC. Papi was named by current NMLC Board Chair, Jeff Luce, in honor of his grandchildren! Papi suffered from a few bites and bruises as a result of battles over squid and herring in the turtle pool, but came through them all like a champ. He was cleared for release by Dr. Williams on March 27, 2013, and became part of the Great Turtle Trek. Papi was release with animals from the New England Aquarium, The Baltimore Aquarium, University of New England, South Carolina Aquarium, The Riverhead Foundation, and the Virginia Aquarium on April 7th 2013 at Little Talbot Island State Park in Jacksonville, FL. To adopt Papi and support the rehabilitation of other cold stunned sea turtles at NMLC please click here.
That should get you up to speed on all the animals we have seen so far this year. In addition to adoption you can support the rehabilitation of theses and future NMLC patients in many other ways. You can purchase supplies from our Amazon.com Animal Care Wishlist , come run or walk in or Feet Fins & Flippers 5K, or come dance the night away at our Mermaid Ball. Thank you for your interest in our patients!