Nikki the sea turtle is on her way to what doctors hope will be a full recovery—and it’s all thanks to an advanced endoscope and the team at Loggerhead Marinelife Center that performed the procedures.
After being located in the St. Lucie power plant intake canal with “very pronounced” respiratory wheezing, the turtle was taken to the Juno Beach center on Sept. 8, when Dr. Charles Manire used a Karl Storz endoscope to look at her respiratory tract.
He found a plug of tissue in the trachea that was blocking nearly 90 percent of Nikki’s airway. The likely culprit: an ingested fish hook.
“This turtle would not be alive today if we didn’t have this new endoscope,” Dr. Manire said in a release. “This allowed us to determine the cause of the turtle’s breathing difficulty and then to clear the airway.”
So, what exactly makes the tool so special?
“It’s essentially a camera we put inside the turtle so we can look into the stomach, lungs and other internal organs,” Loggerhead Marinelife Center rep Kathryn Rumbley explained. “We have the ability to pass instruments down with the camera, take samples and remove obstructions. It’s a very non-invasive way to getting to the interior of the turtle.”
The Sept. 8 endoscopic procedure was just one of three that was performed on the 15- to 20-year-old loggerhead throughout the course of the month.
She’s doing better now, though. She’s taking daily medication and is monitored closely. She was recently even moved to deeper water.
“We had placed her initially in shallow water,” Rumbley said. “Now she can swim to the top of the surface to take a breath.”
But recovery is a process, of course.
“Each turtle has their own personality, but Nikki has been so sick lately that her personality hasn’t shown as much,” Rumbley said. “Turtles’ personalities begin to shine when they are feeling healthier.”
Here’s to hoping Nikki gets to show everyone what she’s really like very soon.
Check out Jupiter Magazine’s brief visit with Nikki in the video below. (Skip to the 1:18 mark.)