icu-nowThanks to a generous grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Recovered Oil Fund for Wildlife and the Sea Turtle Conservancy, CMA was granted enough money to revitalize the Sea Turtle ICU area. The ICU is a separate rehabilitation space dedicated to the care of sea turtles with fibropapillomatosis, or FP. FP can be a debilitating, even fatal disease where the sea turtles, mainly green sea turtles in the juvenile age class, develop cutaneous tumor-like growths that cover soft tissue, eyes, plastron and carapace. Unfortunately, the tumors can even grow internally on organs and this is inoperable. Making ICU a more quarantined, clean and environmentally controlled area will make it a better place for the care of some of CMA’s most critical sea turtle rehabilitation patients. Upgrades to the existing area include: air conditioning; a glass door for the public to view in, but to cut down on cross contamination and keep in the cool air; sink and water source; drop ceiling; new light fixtures and electrical outlets; new paint on the walls; floor drain and a closed circuit camera and video system that will allow the public to view the sea turtles without disturbing them during their rehabilitation process.

During the construction phase, which begins July 5th and will last up to 45 days, the few FP sea turtles we currently have in the ICU will be temporarily moved to another large pool on site until their new ICU area is completed. We are extremely excited to have this ability to improve our rehabilitation areas for the well-being of our animals.

We invite everyone to come in late August to check out the new and improved Sea Turtle ICU area!

winter swimming with her new tail

Winter can jump and splash about just like any other dolphin, thanks to our continued relationship with Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics, Inc. Winter’s prosthetic tail is becoming more and more comfortable and streamlined with every design. We strive to continue making improvements as this is a one-of-a-kind tail and the only one in the world!

Winter's new prosthetic tail

The many steps to putting on Winter’s tail start with a “sock.” This is what we call the famous “Winter’s Gel.” The sock is a very soft rubbery material that has helped many veterans and amputees reduce the pain of their prostheses. The sock reduces skin friction and helps the tail stay on. Next the “cup” is placed just at the base of Winter’s peduncle, above the fluke. The cup is molded to fit the peduncle exactly. The main suspension strap is then secured. Next the sleeve is pulled over the entire tail to secure everything. And finally a newer feature to Winter’s tail, the rubber band, is placed right at the end of the tail, next to her body.

What are the changes compared to her last tail?

The cup that fits on the end of her tail has been modified to be deeper on the dorsal-ventral side and is thinner in general. The flukes are thicker at the leading edges and thinner at the trailing edges and the main suspension strap is lined with non-slip foam and is held together with velcro. The main lateral struts have embedded polypropylene rods. The tail also has stabilizing cross-member straps connecting to the cup which result in a double-tripod design.

What are the future tail modifications?

We are going to modify this prototype by removing the cross-member straps. The new tail will have the main lateral struts hinged closer to the main suspension strap, so the stabilizing cross-member straps will not be needed.

tail2s

The Nest was Found on Sand Key Beach on May 5th

cmalogoClearwater, Fla. (July 1, 2011) –Loggerhead hatchlings made their way to the water last night marking the beginning of an important time at Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA). Staff and volunteers have located 60 nests so far this season, which is up from 44 nests last year at this time. The first nest hatched on July 14th last year. Once the hatchlings make their way out of the shell they head toward the light of the horizon. Once they reach the water, approximately 1 in 1,000 hatchlings will make it to adulthood.

CMA oversees sea turtle nesting on 26 miles of Pinellas County beaches, locating and protecting nests and ensuring the hatchlings make their way into the gulf. During the night, from May through September, the 350-pound female Loggerhead sea turtles come ashore to deposit their eggs. Over the last four years, CMA has helped more than 35,000 hatchlings make their way into the Gulf. In 2010, 119 nests were located on Pinellas County beaches, the first being found on May 24. Over 200 volunteers help with the nesting program.

Here are some sea turtle safety reminders:

• Do turn off outside lights, draw drapes and avoid using flashlights or fishing lamps on the beach from May 1 to October 31.

• Do Not harass adult turtles as they make their way back to sea. They may appear slow or hesitant and this is normal.

• If you see an adult turtle, Do Not approach, make noises, shine lights or use photo equipment with a flash.

• Do Not pick up hatchlings heading toward the water.

If you have concerns about nesting turtles or hatchlings seen on the beach, contact CMA’s sea turtle department at 717-441-1790 x 224 and leave a detailed message expressing your concern.

wally-releaseToday marked the 10th successful sea turtle release for Clearwater Marine Aquarium so far this year. Wally is a juvenile Kemps Ridley that came to CMA on May 18th. A fisherman caught Wally at the Redington Beach Pier on his line. Wally had swallowed the fisherman’s baited hook along with some heavy test line. While viewing x-rays, the CMA turtle team was able to visualize the hook. With the aid of CMA’s veterinarian, Dr. Mike Walsh, CMA turtle staff and volunteers were able to extract the hook and line. After three weeks of healing the wounds in his esophagus, he began eating well and it was determined that he was eligible for release.

A fisherman hooking a sea turtle is not a rare occurrence in the Tampa Bay area. Here are some tips for responsible fishing and what to do if a sea turtle is hooked.

• Use barbless hooks or circle hooks versus J hooks with barbs.

• If you hook a sea turtle, do not reel it in, try to net the turtle.

• Do not try to extract the hook as this can cause more damage to the throat.

• If you must cut the line, leave at least two feet of line behind to tie off and stop the hook from migrating and causing further damage.

• Do not try to release the sea turtle. Call Florida Fish and Wildlife 1-888-404-3922 and Clearwater Marine Aquarium 1-727-441-1790 ext 234 and let us know you have a hooked sea turtle.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium is currently one of the largest sea turtle rehabilitation facilities in Florida. The upcoming $12 million dollar expansion of CMA includes new, state-of-the-art rehabilitation facilities and will double the current capacity for rehabilitating turtles.

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