Jul 23 2009

Give your turtle team x-ray vision

This young Kemps Ridley turtle was nicknamed  "Deb" for Debordieu Beach, where she was found with a broken humerus bone in her flipper; an injury which benefited from the x-ray machine. (l to r) Mary Pringle, Barb Gobien, Kelly Thorvalson, and Barb Bergwerf.

This young Kemps Ridley turtle was nicknamed "Deb" for Debordieu Beach, where she was found with a broken humerus bone in her flipper; an injury which benefited from the x-ray machine. (l to r) Mary Pringle, Barb Gobien, Kelly Thorvalson, and Barb Bergwerf.

By Mary Pringle

Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island Turtle Team members have recently participated in a fund raising effort that is helping to enable the South Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital to purchase a state of the art digital radiography (x-ray) machine. Because of the extreme weight (in some cases over 300lbs.) of some of the patients, an on-sight x-ray machine will definitely facilitate their treatment and recovery. In the past, all sea turtles were taken to Mount Pleasant for x-rays, which were performed in Dr. Jose Biascochea’s veterinary office.

Turtle Team member and Sea Turtle Hospital volunteer Barb Gobien has experience as an x-ray technician and has been very instrumental in making this a reality. Barb raised money in her shop, the Sand Dollar Gift Gallery in Towne Centre, and she also sent out an appeal to sea turtle volunteers in all of the nesting projects on the South Carolina coast, which helped bring in donations. Residents of DeBordieu Beach started the project with a fundraiser in honor of Deb, a 316lb. loggerhead recently released on Isle of Palms.

The hospital staff has been using a machine that is on loan before making the purchase. They have taken images of fish hooks embedded in turtles’ bodies, blockages of digestive systems, and bone fractures. Although just about all of the $35,000 needed for the machine has been raised, more funds are needed to cover taxes and service contracts that come along with the purchase. If you would like to help with this project, you can send a donation – large or small – to the SC Aquarium at 100 Aquarium Wharf, Charleston, SC 29401. Put a note with it that it is for the “Sea Turtle Hospital’s Digital X-Ray Machine”. You can tour the Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital by calling them at 577-3474 and also to find out about tour times and reservation details.

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