NewsProtecting Paradise


Sea turtle afflicted with tumors rescued during Nicole

Posted at 5:28 AM, Nov 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-15 05:28:22-05

CLEARWATER, Fla. — A sea turtle was dealing with more than just weather-related issues during Hurricane Nicole.

"Badlands," a sea turtle now in the care of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, was found Friday in Holiday after someone called to report a lethargic sea turtle.

"Further assessment shows that he actually has a condition called fibropapillomatosis," explained specialist Cassandra Starr. "[It] is a virus that causes tumor growths on the soft tissues... and it affects primarily our green sea turtle species."

Badlands is a juvenile sea turtle, likely anywhere from 1-10 years old.

"He's also slightly buoyant, which could mean he has some type of GI gas," Starr continued. "When he first came in he was a little on the thin side."

The buoyancy means he is not able to dive down for food without rising back to the surface.

Rough waters from Nicole likely made it even more difficult for him to swim and find nourishment.

Since his rescue, veterinarians have kept a close watch on Badlands, taking his vital signs and running tests to best determine his needs.

"We will send him to CT to see if there's any tumors growing internally," said Starr. "If that comes back clear then we will continue treatment. Hopefully he'll get to the level where we're able to perform surgery and remove the tumors."

Internal tumors would mean the turtle's condition is terminal, and Badlands would not survive if put back into the wild. Full results are due sometime this week.

So far, he is the only turtle being treated at the facility that was impacted by the storm.