North the Turtle Update - uShaka Marine World
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North the Turtle at uShaka

North the Turtle Update

What started out as a positive outcome, sadly ended in tears.

On Tuesday, 18 February 2020, North, our injured Loggerhead patient, had a relatively uneventful afternoon and peaceful night. She responded well to the pain medication we had given her earlier that day.

She spent her evening resting on mattresses in a smallholding pool (in ‘dry dock’) as she looked exhausted from the day’s events.

On Wednesday, 19 February 2020, She was initially a little subdued in the morning which gave cause for concern, but soon perked up and responded to movement and touch. Further medication was administered to help manage her pain.

At around 10:00 am, radiographs and ultrasounds were taken to help evaluate the extent of her injuries. Radiographs of the shoulder showed no broken bones but have provided an insight into the extent of the injury. North’s surgery was scheduled for the morning of Thursday, 20 February 2020, provided her condition remained stable.

On Thursday, 20 February 2020, we were pleased to report that the amputation of North’s flipper, which was undertaken in the morning, went well. Sadly, it was necessary to remove her entire flipper as the fishing line stricture was very high up.

After the veterinary team had assessed her, it was felt that she was stable enough to undergo the needed rigorous surgery. Preparations began soon after the decision was made and by 10:00 the operation was underway.

Anesthesia is always a risk, and even more so in a severely compromised turtle. We needed to be vigilant in monitoring her vital signs throughout the surgery. Thankfully she was stable throughout the entire two and a half hour procedure. Her forearm bone was removed and the blood vessels were sutured. Thereafter, her muscle bellies were stitched over her shoulder socket and the skin stitched closed.

With the loss of her flipper, the area appeared very sunken, but with time and proper nutrition, we had no doubt this would fill out.

She had taken a long time to wake up post-op, which we prefer, as the more stable she was the better chance she had of recovering without any complications. She received strong pain medication and supportive medical treatment.

On Friday, 21 February 2020, it was with a very sad heart that we announced to the public that North did not survive the night.

Although her initial recovery post-surgery was good, her condition slowly deteriorated. Turtles, unfortunately, don’t show clinical signs as strongly as mammals which makes diagnosis and veterinary support a medical challenge. An autopsy has been scheduled.

We know that this news will bring a great deal of sadness to everyone who was touched by her story.
Perhaps we will remember North when we are walking along the beach and safely dispose of any fishing line we come across.

We are so grateful for all the love and support North received from all corners of South Africa and beyond.