When the right network is in place, a lot of good can be done. That goes for animals as much as humans, as one lucky sea turtle found out recently.
A local St. Kitts resident recently stumbled upon a stranded sea turtle clearly in distress on one of the island’s beaches. He snapped and posted a photo to Facebook to alert the St. Kitts Sea Turtle Monitoring Network (SKSTMN).
Now, the main goal of the SKSTMN is to look after nesting sea turtles on St. Kitts. Yet, being that its ambassadors – among them Ross Vet staff and students – are animal activists, they’re always willing to jump in and help any time a sea turtle is in need.
“Responding to animals in distress like this definitely engages the general public, and the responders and everyone is invested in seeing the best possible outcome,” says Dr. Kimberly Stewart, director of the SKSTMN and an associate professor for RUSVM. “It is also a wonderful opportunity for individuals who might normally never come into contact with a sea turtle to interact and then be able to educate others on their importance later.”
The sea turtle, who was nicknamed Dinozzo after the SKSTMN officer who came to the turtle’s aid, was quickly ushered to Ross Vet’s campus. With the help of Nickhail Sutton (a long-term SKSTMN member who is also part of the RUSVM CFBC Internship Program), Dinozzo was quickly set up in a salt water tank on campus. From there, a full exam was done.
“We did a complete physical exam, along with venipuncture,” Dr. Stewart said. “Blood was submitted for a complete blood count and chemistry panel, feces were submitted for a fecal examination, and radiographs were taken.”
It was determined Dinozzo had a cloacal prolapse. Yet, because of the efforts of the SKSTMN – which includes a treatment schedule in which both Ross Vet staff and students will rotate through and assist – the sea turtle is expected to make a full recovery before being tagged and released back into the wild.
“It is quite rewarding to see students volunteering, answering calls and learning how to handle field situations on their own,” says Stewart, who started the Hotline in 2006. “They serve as great ambassadors for sea turtles and the program