Service Spring Break, part 2

National Marine Life Center Journal Entries
Frank Reske, III
Day 2: March 15, 2010, 9 am – 12 pm

IMG00094-20100316-0918Today was my second day at the National Marine Life Center.  Today I watched as the veterinarians and workers did another check up on Patty.  The reason they do so many checkups on Patty is because she is a very sick turtle.  She has a strange and rare shell disease that is basically no blood is circulating to her shell so it has almost completely fallen off.  Only two other turtles in all the literature and records, of at least the U.S., have ever been diagnosed with this and they were both box turtles.  All that’s left is a few pieces of shell and a hard pink membrane which they call a pseudo-shell.  It looks just like skin but is almost as hard as a shell.  They believe that a new shell is growing under the pseudo-shell.  When Patty was first found she had almost been frozen to death.  When the National Marine Life Center got her she had no use of her hind legs and she was basically blind with her eyes filling up with blood.  Since she has been there she has regained her sight and her leg use, but after having her for a few months they began to notice that her shell was falling off.  In a few weeks it went from a full shell to what it is now.  During her check up today they did the usual, weigh her, etc.  IMG00098-20100316-0922Also they had to pump the feces out of her by putting a tube up her anus and pumping water up there to clean her out.  It was fairly disgusting.  But they did notice however that in her tank was some solid feces which is a good thing because she has had trouble going to the bathroom for a while.  After that I helped clean out her tank with another one of the volunteers.  Then I was asked to help out with Patty’s tubing.  This is when you stick a tube down the turtle’s throat to give her medicine.  Patty did not like that at all.  I was the one who held Patty up right and held her front legs down, another volunteer held her head steady, and Joanne Nicholson put the tube down her throat.  Once the tube was down her throat she stopped fighting us, probably out of shock.  Then Joanne asked me to hold her up right for five minutes so she wouldn’t regurgitate the medicine.  While holding her I accidentally knocked a piece of her shell that was ready to fall off, but I still felt bad because it began to bleed a little.  Once I put her down we rubbed burn creams and skin creams on her to soothe her back (not because of the shell I knocked off but because of her disease).  Then Joanne talked to me a little bit about what the internship would be about and what I would be doing.  While she did this she showed me around and explained everything.  I volunteered 3 hours today.

Editor’s note: Frank Reske, III is a freshman at Unity College in Maine. His major is Captive Wildlife Care and Education. Frank volunteered at the National Marine Life Center over his spring break as part of a community service project for school. He has also applied to be a summer intern at NMLC. This is part 2 of 3 journal entries he wrote as part of his spring break project.