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1 March 2009 Morbidity in a Juvenile Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) Due to Ocean-Borne Plastic
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An emaciated 2.36-kg juvenile green sea turtle, Chelonia mydas, was found floating off of Melbourne Beach, Florida, USA (28°2′4″N, 80°32′32″W). The turtle exhibited signs of cachexia, positive buoyancy, lethargy, and obstipation; was covered with barnacles; and was anorexic at the time of presentation. Dorsal-ventral radiographs with positive contrast confirmed obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract. Serum chemistry abnormalities reflected metabolic/ nutritional deficiencies. Gastrointestinal prokinetics and oral/enema mineral oil applications were effective in relieving gastrointestinal obstruction with the turtle defecating a total of 74 foreign objects over a period of a month. After the removal of the foreign material, the turtle quickly regained normal behavior and health. The lack of blood parameters demonstrating infection or inflammation; the failure to respond to antibiotic and antifungal treatment as well as the parallel improvement in behavior and health after incremental evacuation of the plastic is highly suggestive of a cause and effect association.

M. Andrew Stamper, Chad W. Spicer, Donald L. Neiffer, Kristin S. Mathews, and Gregory J. Fleming "Morbidity in a Juvenile Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) Due to Ocean-Borne Plastic," Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 40(1), 196-198, (1 March 2009).
Received: 10 January 2008; Published: 1 March 2009

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