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CARIBBEAN conservation - Saved by surgery!

Dr Gus Reader recently had an unusual patient, a female Hawksbill Turtle with a severely broken lower jaw.

After being rescued from a back yard by the RSPCA in conjunction with Marine Biologist Barry Kruger of the Barbados Sea Turtle Project at the University of the West Indies Barbados, the turtle was brought to Dr Reader in a sorry state

As he had performed similar surgery on dogs, Dr Reader was confident that something could be done and so the turtle was immediately taken into surgery. Only a local anesthetic could be used as a general anasthetic would be far too strong so Barry held the turtle still during the surgery. Dr Michelle Belle assisted.

Holes were drilled on both sides of her jaw …





and a titanium plates fitted.


Just prior to being released Barry and Jen Beggs, also from the UWI Barbados Sea Turtle project, carried out their usual tests and measurements. Nesting females go for long periods without eating and as this Hawksbill female was caught during nesting it is hoped that her jaw will be well healed before she again starts to feed.

The titanium plates on either side of her jaw will eventually rust and fall off. By the time this happens her jaw will be well healed. It was a happy moment for all concerned when she made her way back to the ocean.


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