Rescuers Rush To Help Endangered Sea Turtle Who Ingested A 92-Inch Balloon String.

sea turtle with purple string in its mouth

Members of the Mass Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary are no strangers to rescuing turtles, but even they hadn’t seen anything quite like this before.

In November 2021, they rescued an endangered sea turtle who was discovered on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. The poor creature was cold-stunned, and upon closer inspection, they realized it had ingested a balloon string that was still inside its body.

By the time the turtle arrived at New England Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital, it was hypothermic, dehydrated, and anemic. After being examined, the string coming out of the turtle from both ends was trimmed, but the surgery the turtle desperately needed would have to wait.

“We had to stabilize it for about a week before we felt comfortable enough to anesthetize it for surgery,” said Dr. Charles Innis, director of animal health. “First, the turtle was treated with fluid therapy, antibiotics, nutritional support, and gradual warming.”

By the time December 8 rolled around, this tough turtle was ready for what they considered to be a “particularly complicated surgery.”

Despite everything that could have gone wrong, the procedure went perfectly! In the end, they removed around 28 inches of string, but in total, the poor thing had ingested 92 inches’ worth.

“The turtle started eating right away post-surgery, but we had to limit his consumption to avoid creating surgical site complications,” said Adam Kennedy, the aquarium’s manager of rescue and rehabilitation.

Since the successful procedure, the turtle has been well on its way to a full recovery. It is even expected to be released back into the ocean this summer!

Until then, the New England Aquarium expects to see more turtles like this one. At least 14 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean each year, contributing to the 500+ turtles they have needed to rescue and rehabilitate this winter season alone.

That’s why it’s so important to properly dispose of trash, especially items with strings like balloons, which pose the most risk of damaging an animal’s intestines.

“It was gratifying that we were able to remove the ribbon safely and save this turtle before there was irreversible damage to the gastrointestinal tract,” Dr. Melissa Joblon said.

“It is a great credit to the Aquarium’s triage and veterinary staff that this turtle survived,” added Bob Prescott, a leader of Wellfleet Bay’s sea turtle rescue program.

Share this article to wish this adorable turtle a quick recovery.

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