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Shell Shock: Australian Veterinarians Probe Mystery of Green Turtle that Can’t Dive

The wild reptile was rescued after being found floating helplessly.

SYDNEY—Talk about a tough life for a turtle: First, it gets hit by a ship’s propeller, leaving a long scar across its shell. Then, it comes down with a mysterious illness that has left it floating listlessly.

That’s the situation facing a green sea turtle that’s being treated at Australia’s Taronga Wildlife Hospital, which is located within the Taronga Zoo Sydney. In a video, veterinarian Kimberly Vinette Herrin describes the procedures she’ll undertake to treat the ill turtle. She notes that its most recent problem involves not being able to dive,which might be caused by a build-up of gas from diet or serious respiratory problems.

Veterinary staff flip the turtle on its side in an undated photo. (Newsflash)


The turtle being treated by the Wildlife Hospital’s veterinarian staff.(Newsflash)

Herrin and her team are then shown taking blood samples, measurements and radiographs. She also shows the scar the turtle bears from being hit by a ship’s propeller at some point in the past. But she notes that wound is probably not related to the turtle’s current illness.

“As a wild animal, its age is not known,” Laura Minn, the zoo’s s senior media relations officer told Zenger News. “After a full health check and a number of tests, the turtle remains in care under the supervision of our vets.”

Green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) are found mainly in tropical waters around the world, and nests in roughly 80 countries. It is one of the largest species of turtles on the planet, weighing up to nearly 300 pounds (130-plus kilograms) and measuring just over 3 feet long (1 meter). They can live up to 80 years.


The species is listed as “endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s “Red List of Threatened Species,” which said  the main threat facing such creatures is the harvesting of their eggs by humans.

(Edited by Stephen Gugliociello and Matthew Hall.)

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