Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle #19-2254

Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle #19-2254
Jun 04 2019Jun 06 2019

Kemp's ridley sea turtles are the smallest species of sea turtles and are listed as critically endangered by the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species.

This juvenile Kemp's ridley was admitted after accidentally ingesting a fisherman's baited hook near the Fort Myers Beach pier on Fort Myers Beach. Thankfully, the fisherman handled the situation correctly and slowly reeled the turtle to shore and immediately called for help instead of simply cutting the line and letting it go.

Status Updates

Hook Removal Surgery - Jun 05 2019 10:03 am

The juvenile turtle was taken to surgery to remove the hook that it had swallowed. Veterinarians planned to use an endoscope, a device with a small camera that is minimally invasive, to remove the hook. The turtle was sedated and then intubated so that veterinarians could safely remove the hook.


Hook Removal Surgery - Jun 05 2019 10:30 am

Once the turtle was fully under anesthesia, veterinarians were able to get a better look inside its mouth. To their surprise, they were actually able to see the hook in its esophagus and determined that using the endoscope would not be necessary. They attempted to remove the hook using forceps and a hook removal tool, but were unsuccessful.


Hook Removal Surgery - Jun 05 2019 11:00 am

After attempts to remove the hook through the mouth were unsuccessful due to it being embedded in the esophagus, veterinarians had to switch tactics. A small incision was made through the side of the neck. Veterinarians were then able to partially pull the hook out through the incision. The barb of the hook was removed using bolt cutters and the remaining piece was pulled out through the mouth using the line which was still attached to it. The incision was then stitched closed.


Tagging - Jun 05 2019 11:25 am

With the incision being very small, veterinarians expect the turtle to make a quick recovery. While it was still under anesthesia, the turtle was tagged with flipper tags and a passive integrated transponder (PIT) tag, similar to ones used to microchip pets.


Recovery from Surgery - Jun 05 2019 11:35 am

The turtle will be 'dry-docked', meaning it will be kept out of the water, but covered with wet towels, until it has fully recovered from the anesthesia. Once it is fully recovered, it can be placed in a shallow pool and offered food.


Moved to Shallow Tank - Jun 05 2019 3:15 pm

The turtle has fully recovered from the anesthesia. Our rehab team has set it up in a shallow tank and have reported that it is doing well, but is a bit stressed in the new tank.


Cleared For Release - Jun 06 2019 10:51 am

The young turtle has been cleared for release.


Released! - Jun 06 2019 4:34 pm

This afternoon, the turtle was taken via boat to the back bay waters of Fort Myers Beach and released near Mound Key. Video of the release will be posted on our YouTube Channel soon!