CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is currently caring for two sea turtles affected by red tide.
“Alexis Rose” and “Chandler” are being cared for by the aquarium during the ongoing red tide issue in the Tampa Bay area.
Both of the Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles have been affected by the algae bloom, experts say. Red tide exposure is confirmed through a blood test in the animals.
Dr. Shelly Marquardt, the staff veterinarian at the aquarium, spoke with 8 On Your Side about their patients on Thursday.
Marquardt said that “Alexis Rose” has been in care for about three weeks and is doing “very well” after exposure to the toxin.
“She’s eating, swimming and we’re hoping to get her out very soon,” Dr. Marquardt said.
Chandler, another female, arrived to CMA on Sunday and is still recovering from symptoms of red tide exposure, but the prognosis also looks good, as she’s been swimming around.
“So we’re really really excited and very optimistic that she’s going to be able to to get through this without any complications,” Dr. Marquardt said.
With the Unusual Mortality Event in manatees across the state, 8 On Your Side asked about red tide symptoms in sea turtles and learned that they’re very similar.
“You’re going to have disoriented swimming, possibly buoyancy [issues] where they’re floating at the surface and not diving down,” she said. “What we see when they come in is actually more like seizure behavior and… sometimes they have muscle tremors – very, very common.”
Dr. Marquardt said the severity of red tide sickness in a turtles depends on the amount of exposure and the length of time, but everything is specific to the turtle patient and fluids are administered through an IV.
“We’re using it to kind of help find the toxin and so they believe that might actually help them clear it a little bit faster and so we give this as an IV injection everyday, to help kind of promote the progression of it out of the body and from there we just kind of give them a lot of TLC make sure we’re not stressing them too much and they eventually work this out and they do great,” she said.
However, there are some turtles who have not gotten out of the red tide bloom in time, and the doctor notes it can be fatal, but their turtle care is “overwhelming” one a turtle gets in.
The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is known more for its dolphins, but to date, no red tide-related dolphin illnesses have been relayed to media from the aquarium.