While aquariums are often seen as family day trip destinations to explore the wonder of sea life, rescue and conservation efforts often continue in the background. A video shared by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium documents just one of those rescue and conservation moments.
Only July 4, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, with assistance from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, rescued a juvenile green sea turtle named Sparkler that was suffering from a fibropapilloma tumor to its front fin — a result of a tumor-causing disease known as Fibropapillomatosis.
Fibropapillomatosis is commonly referred to as "FP" and causes cauliflower-like tumors to form on the skin anywhere on the body, including the eyes, mouth, and sometimes even internal organs of some sea turtles.
The earliest reports of a sea turtle FP are from Florida in the late 1800s, with the disease first appearing in scientific literature in 1938. The NOAA says the disease most commonly affects green turtles across the U.S. in areas such as Florida, Hawaii, Texas, and Puerto Rico.
According to an Instagram post by the aquarium, the tumor was large enough to severely impact Sparkler's ability to swim and acquire food.
Accompanying the post is a video showcasing the aquarium's veterinarian team's successful removal of the 352-gram tumor. The team carefully sedated Sparkler, meticulously cutting away the tumor before wrapping up the turtle's flipper.
According to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Sparkler is continually improving post surgery; they plan to continue monitoring the healing process to watch for any potential regrowth.
You can watch the team's successful operation on Sparkler here.
As of publication, no further details have been released; Uncovering Florida will update this article if or when they become available.
Article by Rachael Volpe