El had been in 2 inches of fresh water overnight because we wanted the water below her nostrils until we knew she could consistenly raise head to breath. As you probably know, sea turtles, being reptiles, breathe fresh air. When they are active and swimming around, they come up for air approximately every 20 to 30 minutes. When they are resting they can stay under water about 2 hours or more depending upon the carapace and lung sizes. Lifeguard Dave monitered El’s staying under water for 30 minutes when he was preparing to bring her to shore.
El has about half her front right flipper missing. The flipper is very well-healed and is not a recent wound. Below you can compare her left and right flippers. Many sea turtles survive quite well when released with 3 flippers. Currently there is a study to verify that.
The well-healed right flipper:
El was COVERED with barnacles, leeches, and bivalves when she arrived. Fresh water, which she was initially in since arriving in Rehab, kills the barnacles with help of human intervention and lack of water helps with the leehes. As of today, the leeches are mostly gone and barnacles have been or are being loosened and removed. This morning the water was raised to 5 inches so she could eat underwater. Immediately, she ate all the shrimp, squid, and capelin (smelt) that had been thawed…approx. 740 grams. Then she proceeded to clean up the floor of the tank. And, adding icing to the experience, she defecated this morning after eating! Always a positive!
(above) Aquarist Kristen Clark removing barnacles and leeches from El’s carapace.
This was a marvelous day with El. More tomorrow.