May is a juvenile green sea turtle that arrived on December 14, 2012 from Mayport, Florida. May had sustained fractures to the carapace (top shell) and plastron (bottom shell). There was also a fishhook in his/her mouth. Upon arrival May was lethargic (weak), and could barely lift his/her head.
The fishhook was easily removed from May’s mouth without causing any further damage. He/she was immediately started on antibiotics to help fight infection and given fluids. Tramadol was prescribed for pain management within two days of his/her arrival. At first, all of the fracture wounds on the plastron and the carapace were treated daily with medihoney (a sterile form of honey) and waterproof bandaging. May couldn’t swim, so he/she was placed in a kiddie pool with very shallow water and foam padding covered with towels, which we call a ‘waterbed.’ A CT scan was performed and showed a fracture his/her first vertebrae.
May would not eat when he/ she first arrived and had to be tube fed regularly. Because he/she wasn’t eating, we had to provide nutrition and medication through fluids, tube feeding, and injections.
We offered May seafood (shrimp, squid, mackerel and herring) and greens (cucumber, bell peppers, and lettuce) three times a day hoping he/she would show interest. At first, he/she simply ignored the food offered or moved away from it. Finally, May ate seafood and greens for the first time on January 25, 2013, more than a month after his/her arrival. After that, May ate on his/her own regularly, and we were able to discontinue tube feeding.
Every morning, he/she would be placed into a kiddie pool with deeper water to test his/her ability to come up for air. Someone would stay with May for a few hours to keep an eye on him/her during this process and help him/her come up for breaths. When May could finally come up for air without help, he/she could stay in shallow water all the time. As he/she improved, the water depth was slowly increased a few inches every day until May was ready to be placed into one of our larger systems in April.
About two months after her arrival, we began treating her wounds with RediHeal, a bioglass based fiber, and bone cement. Bone cement can be mixed with antibiotics and hardens onto the wound, making it more waterproof. As his/her wounds healed, May’s debridement’s and bone cement changes were reduced to once a week. The wound healed up enough to stop all treatments in March, and he/she is now only receiving check-ups (regular physical exams).
This sea turtle’s gender is unknown as there is no external way to tell until they are adults. We could run blood tests or do an internal procedure to find out, but this is both expensive and stressful for us and the turtle. As it doesn’t effect their treatment, we don’t do either of these unless necessary. And, in a case like May’s, when we were trying to get her to eat and recover from a serious injury, we want to keep his/her as relaxed as possible.
May was given his/her prerelease exam on May 7th, marking him/her as ready to return to the ocean. He/she will be released this Friday during Amelia Wild. And now, five months after his/her arrival, May is swimming around with ease and ready to go home. He/she was given the name May because he/she originally stranded in Mayport, and also because of this sea turtle’s aMAYzing recovery.