The turtle was brought in by boat because she was unable to hold her head out of the water. Weighing in at around 200 pounds, it wasn’t easy to wrangle the turtle from boat, to dock, to the back of Nancy Lingeman’s car. But the task was done, and soon Keegan was on her way up to Mote Marine Laboratory in the back of Ms. Nancy’s station wagon.
According to Gretchen Lovell, Mote’s stranding investigations program manager, when Keegan was brought in she wasn’t doing well at all. Two weeks later she is doing better, but is still being watched closely.
“She’s still hanging in there, but is in very guarded condition,” Gretchen said. “She is a bit more active now, she’s improving slowly. While she was being fed through a tube, on Thursday morning she ate some fish on her own.
“We definitely believe she is a red tide turtle, and turtles don’t handle red tide very well. We’re trying a new treatment to turn her around.”
Keegan is the first turtle to ever receive this particular type of new treatment, with a drug called Cholestyramine. It is a bile acid sequestrant, which binds to the red tide neurotoxin to prevent its re-absorption into the system.
Cholestyramine is used in humans being treated for different maladies, including liver failure which occurs due to the liver’s inability to eliminate bile. It is also used in treatment of individuals experiencing chronic inflammation of the immune system following exposure to damp and water-damaged indoor environments.
“This is a totally new treatment for turtles,” Gretchen said. “Keegan is the first turtle we have ever tried this procedure with. Dr. Faquier (Dr. Deborah Faquier, the directorate of marine biology and conservation) says she hopes it might work with both turtles and birds affected by red tide.”
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