Sea Turtle Eye Infections Being Investigated
As part of a study to explore the long-term impacts of red tide events on sea turtles, SCCF sent deceased hatchlings to a pathologist for microscopic examination to assess the health of their vital organs on a cellular level. While the abnormalities reported likely were not related to toxin exposure, one finding was particularly interesting. Eyelid lesions were found in most of the hatchlings. Fishhead Labs CEO/Chief Pathologist Dr. Susan B. Fogelson, the examining pathologist, is highly confident that the lesions occurred prior to death and may have contributed to early mortality of the animals. Several things can cause disease in the eye and surrounding area: trauma, infection (viral, bacterial, or fungal), and chemical and thermal burns. SCCF is working with specialists to coordinate further analysis to determine if a virus is present in the tissues. These results are likely to take several months. “The identification of eye disease was an unexpected but important finding, and we are eager to learn more about its potential impacts on our hatchlings,” said SCCF Coastal Wildlife Director Kelly Sloan.