Brevard Zoo Helps Sea Turtle ‘Riptide’ Adjust to Life With Three Flippers After Amputation Surgery

By  //  August 3, 2021

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Thanks to the Sea Turtle Healing Center team, Riptide is now swimming like a typical sea turtle

Juvenile green sea turtle Riptide is adjusting to life with three flippers after undergoing amputation surgery in July. The patient was brought to the Brevard Zoo’s Sea Turtle Healing Center on June 25 after it was found in Ormond Beach with its flippers entangled in monofilament line and a few external fibropapillomatosis (FP) tumors. (Brevard Zoo image)

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Juvenile green sea turtle Riptide is adjusting to life with three flippers after undergoing amputation surgery in July.

The patient was brought to the Brevard Zoo’s Sea Turtle Healing Center on June 25 after it was found in Ormond Beach with its flippers entangled in monofilament line and a few external fibropapillomatosis (FP) tumors.

In addition to the typical regimen of fluids, medication, and nutritional support that Brevard Zoo provides all of their patients, they quickly did everything they could to save Riptide’s front left flipper, which was severely damaged by the line stricture.

Unfortunately, after providing leech therapy, massaging the limb, and administering medications to promote healthy blood flow, it was determined that the appendage was too far gone and would need to be amputated to prevent infection and further damage.

Before the procedure, Brevard Zoo took Riptide for a CT scan at Animal Specialty & Emergency Hospital in Rockledge to ensure the sea turtle did not show evidence of internal FP tumors, which generally indicate that a patient is too sick to continue treatment. Finding no signs of such an issue, our veterinarians cleared Riptide for amputation.

This fishing line was removed from Riptide upon arrival at the Brevard Zoo’s Sea Turtle Healing Center. Entanglement in fishing equipment is one of the greatest threats to marine life. Remember to pack your gear before and after use, and place unwanted monofilament line in the designated bins at waterfront parks. (Brevard Zoo image)

Riptide was anesthetized and their vitals were monitored for the duration of the three-hour surgery. Veterinary staff thoroughly cleaned and wrapped the affected flipper to ensure sterilization, then carefully cut through the sea turtle’s skin and muscle.

Once the appendage was removed, Riptide’s incision was sutured and an anesthesia reversal was administered.

This sea turtle had a prolonged recovery as it took them nearly 20 hours to breathe on their own, requiring the Brevard Zoo Sea Turtle Healing Center team to stay overnight to provide manual ventilation.

Their hard work paid off, and Riptide is now eating and swimming like a typical sea turtle.

Entanglement in fishing equipment is one of the greatest threats to marine life. Remember to pack your gear before and after use, and place unwanted monofilament line in the designated bins at waterfront parks.

If you accidentally hook a sea turtle in Brevard County, call Sea Turtle Preservation Society at 321-206-0646 or Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-FWCC.