Leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) are the most endangered of the seven species of sea turtles. The health status of leatherbacks is largely unknown, although the number of nesting females recorded throughout the world has decreased precipitously in the last few decades. Central African beaches may provide one of the last strongholds for nesting leatherback females. In the region, oil extraction and incidental capture pose significant threats to the health of the population. Physical examinations, hematology, plasma biochemistry, plasma corticosterone concentration, plasma protein electrophoresis, plasma vitamin concentrations, and toxicological parameters were evaluated in nesting female leatherbacks in the Republic of Gabon. The general clinical condition of the 35 turtles examined in this study was rated as good. The blood value results for a subset of these turtles are presented and compared to published results from other sea turtles. To the authors' knowledge, these are the first published baseline hematology, plasma biochemistry, and plasma protein electrophoresis values from clinically healthy nesting leatherback turtles.
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