Conservation programs to protect endangered sea turtles are being instituted worldwide. A common practice in these programs is to collect blood to evaluate the health of the turtles. Several different venipuncture sites are used to collect blood from sea turtles for hematologic and biochemistry tests, depending on the species. To date, it is unknown what affect venipuncture site may have on sample results. The purpose of this study was to measure the level of agreement between hematologic and biochemistry values collected from the dorsal cervical sinus and the interdigital vein of leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) sea turtles. Paired heparinized blood samples were obtained from the dorsal cervical sinus and the interdigital vein of 12 adult female nesting leatherback sea turtles on Keys Beach, St. Kitts, West Indies. Even though the sample population was small, the data for each chemistry were normally distributed, except for creatine kinase (CK). There was no significant difference when comparing biochemistry or hematologic values by venipuncture site, except for CK (P = 0.02). The level of agreement between sampling sites was considered good for albumin, calcium, globulin, glucose, packed cell volume, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, total protein, total solids, uric acid, white blood cell count, and all of the individual white cell types, while the level of agreement for aspartate aminotransferase and CK were considered poor. This information, coupled with the fact that the interdigital vein affords a less-invasive procedure, demonstrates that the interdigital vein is an appropriate location to use when establishing a hematologic and biochemical profile for leatherback sea turtles.
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