2 sea turtles visited the Houston Zoo today for a check-up by our Veterinary Staff. Both were green sea turtles that came in from the wild with injuries.
The first green turtle is one that was found late summer completely entangled in fishing line (in fact, the turtle was still attached to a fishing pole when someone found him/her). The turtle suffered terrible injuries to both front flippers, and unfortunately lost one flipper. The remaining front flipper is still recovering-Houston Zoo Vet Staff took a look to make sure it is healing properly. Hopefully with a few months longer in rehab, this turtle will be healthy enough to be released back into the wild. Sea turtles are able to survive in the wild with only 3 functioning flippers, and we have high hopes this turtle will be no different.
The 2nd green turtle that Vet staff checked on also suffered from a front flipper injury. Staff from the NOAA-Galveston Lab are unsure as to how this sea turtle became injured, but it was found floating in the ship channel in Galveston. It has wounds near the front left flipper and looks to have suffered a dislocated flipper-this type of injury is very uncommon among sea turtles!
Our Vet Team at the Houston Zoo took x-rays to monitor the flipper injury and hope to see it back in a few weeks for further treatment. A twist to this sea turtle’s story is that this exact turtle was released with the help of the Houston Zoo in May of 2013. The turtle had lost a back flipper several months ago, was rehabilitated in Galveston, and then released into Galveston Bay with Houston Zoo staff help earlier this year. We know the history of this sea turtle because before it was released it was given a flipper tag with an ID number on it. We had hoped this turtle would not have returned with yet another injury, but we are optimistic that the turtle will be returned one more time to the wild and stay there unharmed, thriving in its’ natural habitat.
Both turtles will remain at NOAA’s sea turtle facility in Galveston as they rehabilitate. Thanks to the work of the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA), these turtles will have another chance to return to the wild!
This time of year is especially tough for sea turtles. When the temperature drops drastically, sea turtles become stunned or shocked from the sudden temperature drop. They often rise to the top and float into the shore. If you visit Texas beaches this holiday season and happen to see a sea turtle on the beach please call 1-866-TURTLE-5. You can also help sea turtles daily by reducing your use of plastics-products like plastic water bottles, soda pack rings, and plastic bags end up in our oceans and animals like sea turtles and dolphins can become entangled in these items or eat them, mistaking them for food. By using reusable grocery bags and reusable water bottles, you can help save sea turtles each day!
You can also help sea turtles by visiting the Houston Zoo this holiday season-each time you purchase a ticket or a Zoo membership, a portion of the proceeds go towards saving animals in the wild.