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Sick Turtle Swims To Florida Keys' Turtle Hospital

MARATHON (CBSMiami/FKNB) - An injured green sea turtle swam into the boat basin of the Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys Thursday and was rescued.

The sub-adult reptile, weighing 46 pounds, was pulled from the water and moved to the hospital's emergency room.

"Usually, patients come into the Turtle Hospital in the turtle ambulance," said hospital manager Bette Zirkelbach. "This patient seemingly checked himself in."

Zirkelbach said the turtle, named Yertle for the Dr. Seuss "Yertle the Turtle" book, was entangled in fishing line and is missing its front left flipper. She surmised the missing flipper was severed by the line or self-amputated due to injuries caused by the line.

Hospital staff removed the fishing line from the turtle's body, but Yertle apparently ingested line which might pass through its digestive system naturally or may require surgery to remove. Blood was drawn for testing and X-rays taken to evaluate treatment possibilities.

Zirkelbach said the turtle also has about 10 Fibropapilloma tumors on it. The cauliflower-like tumors are caused by a herpes-like virus that can affect turtles around the world.

"The prognosis for Yertle is guarded," Zirkelbach said."He's in critical condition."

It's the second time since the hospital opened in 1986 that a turtle in need has swum into the facility's small harbor. On March 29, 2009, a loggerhead was admitted for an intestinal infection and released 10 weeks later.

"The great thing about our patients is that they don't require health insurance," Zirkelbach said. "Everyone gets treated."
"The Florida Keys News Bureau contributed to this report."



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