A project of Gumbo Limbo Nature Center.
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Life Stage: Sub-Adult
Release Date: 2014-06-12 16:30:00
Release Location: Boca Raton, FL
Last Location: 2015-07-15 07:52:35
Howard and Carissa Sucher
Jeanne & Marc Latour
Lisa, Jim and Jocelyn
In early February of this year, the Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Facility (STRF) at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center (GLNC) admitted its first loggerhead turtle of the year, a 90 pound sub-adult named Phoenix. The turtle sustained a boat propeller strike to the rear of its carapace (shell) that removed the posterior six inches. Upon arrival the turtle was stabilized and received antibiotics and IV fluids. Though the injury was very serious medical staff was confident they could save the turtle through proper diet, medication, and wound care.
Little did they know that there was an even larger problem Phoenix was facing, when x-rays showed a 4” stainless steel shark hook lodged in her esophagus! A first attempt to remove the hook with long pliers was unsuccessful as the hook was very deep. If not removed the hook would eventually break free from the esophagus and do severe damage as it moved through the turtle’s digestive tract and most likely would result in death.
Therefore, Phoenix was brought to the Palm Beach Zoo (PBZ) for surgery to try and remove the hook. Going into the procedure the STRF staff was still unsure if the hook could be removed through the mouth or if it would require a more serious surgery in the throat and esophagus. A sedative was administered to calm the turtle for the intense procedure, and the staff veterinarian was able to successfully extract the hook from Phoenix’s throat with a local anesthesia and a minor incision. Rehab staff erupted in cheers at the sight of the hook as well as avoiding a more risky surgery. A few sutures were placed at the surgery site to help with healing and the turtle was placed back into it's pool where it recovered nicely.
Phoenix's full recovery is marked by a healthy weight gain to 120 pounds and was released at Spanish River Park in Boca Raton, Florida on June 12, 2014 with around 1000 well-wishers to cheer the return trip to the sea.