BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP)– A rescued Kemp’s ridley sea turtle is recovering after surgery to remove a balloon ribbon it had swallowed.
The endangered turtle was found on Ellis Beach in Brewster, Massachusetts in November by Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary volunteers looking for stranded turtles. The balloon ribbon extended from outside its beak, through its digestive tract, and out its cloaca or posterior opening. A piece of balloon was still attached after going through the digestive tract.
The turtle was brought to the New England Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital in Quincy, where an exam found that in addition to the string the reptile was hypothermic, dehydrated, and anemic. According to the New England Aquarium, ribbon and other string type items are dangerous for animals as they can cause bunching of the intestine, cutting the intestinal wall causing severe damage, infection, and even death.
“We knew that this turtle would require surgery to remove the ribbon, but we had to stabilize it for several days before it was strong enough to tolerate general anesthesia,” said Dr. Charles Innis, Director of Animal Health at the New England Aquarium.
Aquarium veterinarians operated on the turtle, performing an enterotomy (or incision into the intestine) to remove the ribbon, which measured more than seven feet long in total. Fortunately, the intestine had not yet been severely damaged, and the turtle is recovering well. The turtle will be released back into the ocean off Cape Cod this summer.
The successful surgery caps off the third-busiest cold-stunning season for the Aquarium and Mass Audubon, with more than 500 live sea turtles stranding on Cape Cod beaches.