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Treating a Green Sea Turtle with Sea World Gold Coast

Posted by VSS on 10 August 2020

At Veterinary Specialist Services, we are very fortunate to have great working relationships with many animal organisations. Sea World Gold Coast is one of these organisations where we can provide specialist veterinary equipment when they require extensive diagnostic testing or surgical intervention.

In January this year, an adult Green Sea Turtle, who was later named Norma Jean, was found behaving abnormally near the shore of Ballina NSW. She was soon rescued and brought into Sea World where she received veterinary care. Upon closer observation, it became obvious that she was having difficulty diving, she was floating at the surface of the water despite her multiple attempts to dive deeper into the water.

She also had other signs or symptoms that suggested that she could have been unwell for a period of time. One of the major findings in her initial examination was a rather large defect on her shell which appeared to be old and fully healed. She received an array of tests and examinations at Sea World in order to understand her health issues, but unfortunately her inability to dive remained a mystery.

After a few phone calls, Norma Jean was carefully transported by the Sea World Veterinary team to Veterinary Specialist Services at Carrara for a CT scan. This allowed the team to visualise her internal organs and the large wound on her shell. 

Thankfully, the CT scan provided us with some new information. There was a large amount of air in her chest cavity, but outside her lung (pneumothorax), and a partially collapsed section of the lungs. The pneumothorax needed to be drained so that the collapsed lung could expand again and Norma Jean could breathe normally. The air trapped in her chest cavity was the reason she was unable to dive, like a balloon floating at the surface. Further testing also determined that she had an infection in her chest, possibly causing the pneumothorax. She was placed onto a course of antibiotics, and once she was feeling better, her rehabilitation program began, and 5 months later she was able to swim normally and dive again!

In June, Norma Jean was released back into the wild with a clean bill of health! It is incredible the intensive rehabilitation work that goes into caring for our Australian wildlife, and we are so lucky to be able to play a role in this incredible journey.

For more stories like this (and a video of Norma Jean), follow Veterinary Specialist Services on Facebook.

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