By Virginia Fishes In Virginia Fishes
September 3, 2016
Every animal in our care is observed closely every day during routine feedings, exhibit maintenance and cleanings, and programs. The health of our animals is our main concern.
Aquatic animals however, can be difficult to assess. Many fishes do not eat every day, some are sedentary by nature so it may be difficult to determine their activity level and we have no physical contact with them so there is no feedback of any kind to indicate possible discomfort. The loggerhead sea turtle "Coco" remains in the water continuously so our information on his/her health comes mainly from our daily interactions during feedings and subsequent assessment of his/her appetite. We glean additional information from observations and up-close interactions during the weekly dives. However, to truly gauge Coco's health, he/she periodically needs a check up by an experienced veterinarian.
On Friday September 2, DVM Allyson McNaughton came by to perform Coco's physical. The procedure involves an overall heath exam, body measurements and weight to determine growth, and a blood draw for analysis.
This physical also included an ultrasound - very similar to the onesexpectant mothers get - to attempt to see the development of sexual organs; Coco proved to be too young to determine his/her sex.
The first step is to remove Coco from the exhibit. Aquarist Patrycja Lawryniuk was the designated diver to retrieve Coco form inside the tank and guide him/her into a large bin. The bin is then lowered down to the deck behind the Chesapeake Bay Aquarium (CBA) where Coco could be safely examined. Along with myself and Patrycja, Herpetology Curator Travis Land assisted in handling Coco and taking body measurements, Karl Rebensdorf and aquarium volunteer Danielle Meeker photographed the procedure, VLM Vet Tech Linda Addison assisted Dr. McNaughton with the blood draw and ultrasound procedures.
Coco weighed in at 63 lbs (or 28.63 kg), and was measured at 66 cm long (~26 inches), 56 cm wide (~22 inches). Her shell condition and overall appearance was deemed "excellent" and her blood analysis will be provided within a few days.
Overall, the procedure was very efficient and low stress for all involved, and most importantly for Coco who swam away healthy and happy.
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