Looking quite fashionable in black neoprene accented with hot pink straps, our lone green sea turtle patient, Eddie, is finally able to swim below the surface of the water without bobbing to the surface like a cork. The neoprene dive suit we began designing for Eddie last summer is helping to counteract the positive buoyancy caused by persistent excess gas in the intestinal tract. Similar to a scuba diver’s use of lead weights to attain neutral buoyancy, Eddie’s vest has eight pockets distributed over its surface that allow us to easily customize the amount and placement of lead weights to help him dive. The pockets are long and narrow to accommodate weights typically used to balance tires; these weights were generously donated by George Whitehead of Mark’s Super Service Center in North Charleston. Plus, the vest is fully adjustable and thus will continue to fit Eddie as he grows.
Designing this one-of-a-kind custom-made vest for Eddie was no easy feat. Multiple Aquarium staff and volunteers collaborated throughout the design process, which began last August. Despite our overall success, we were unable to properly stitch the straps and pockets to the vest as the vest neoprene has a rubber backing. While this rubber backing is useful to secure the vest against Eddie’s shell, it is impossible to sew through! Luckily, local upholsterer Andy Broughton of Mount Pleasant came to our rescue on several occasions and donated his time to help complete Eddie’s vest. Thanks, Andy!
Eddie’s treatment regime has been diverse and fairly aggressive over the past several months. In addition to weight therapy, he’s received prescription gut motility medication and antibiotics, undergone salinity treatments, and received a CT scan. We’ve also begun using cold laser therapy twice weekly thanks to the very generous donation of a LiteCure Companion Therapy Laser earlier this year. This non-invasive and drug-free therapy has benefited many patients of our sea turtle hospital to date and we are hopeful it may help to alleviate Eddie’s GI disorder as well.
Despite Eddie’s persistent flotation issue, he remains active, happy, and is otherwise in good health. We encourage you to come visit this amazing little green sea turtle and the other five patients currently being treated in our sea turtle hospital. Happy holidays from all of us here at the South Carolina Aquarium. We wish you the best in 2014!
Sea Turtle Biologist