A juvenile sea turtle caught up in Hurricane Nicole in Holiday was brought to Clearwater Marine Aquarium on Friday for rehabilitation, but the little guy has some big challenges.
The veterinarians found fibropapilloma tumors, which are cauliflowerlike tumors found in sea turtles. He has a “significant amount” of tumors on his body, including in his eyes, said aquarium spokesperson Kelsy Long.
The team named the turtle Badlands, after the rugged South Dakota national park, and started him on fluid therapy. They are scanning him to see if the tumors are internal as well. Internal tumors are terminal, Long said.
“External tumors can be removed,” Long said. “In the case of this little guy, we hope that at least one of his eyes can be saved. We can release a turtle with one eye, but blind turtles are nonreleasable as they cannot survive in the wild.”
It is common for the aquarium to receive many calls about lethargic or deceased animals after a storm like Nicole, Long said, since the rough waters tend to bring weak animals to shore. This turtle, estimated to be less than 10 years old, was found on a beach in Holiday.
If you see a stranded animal, experts suggest you give the animal space and call local authorities. The Clearwater rescue hotline is 727-441-1790, ext. 1.