"In 30 years, we’ve never seen a tumor that big," said one member of the Turtle Hospital in Florida

By Benjamin VanHoose
September 23, 2020 01:57 PM
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Credit: The Turtle Hospital

This sea turtle had a weight lifted off its flipper!

On Saturday, the veterinary team at the Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Florida, operated on a sea turtle nicknamed Chomper who had a 14.2-lb. tumor on its flipper and successfully removed the growth. The hospital said the tumor was larger than a basketball.

"Chomper is 14.2 pounds lighter thanks to Dr. Terry Norton and the team at the Turtle Hospital!" read a post on the hospital's Facebook page. "Dr. Terry was able to save Chomper’s flipper and we are cautiously optimistic Chomper will make a full recovery."

"Chomper received a blood transfusion immediately following surgery," the vets continued. "Madea, a non-releasable loggerhead sea turtle living at the Turtle Hospital was the blood donor. Please keep the prayers and healing vibes coming Chomper’s way, she has a long way to go in rehab."

According to the Miami Herald, the turtle was found last Thursday by boaters who spotted it caught in some fishing line. The family then transported her to the hospital.

Credit: The Turtle Hospital
Credit: The Turtle Hospital

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Hospital manager Bette Zirkelbach told the outlet that tumors are rare for loggerhead turtles, let alone one so massive. Chomper weighed 150 lbs. when the tumor was still attached.

"In 30 years, we’ve never seen a tumor that big," said Zirkelbach.

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On Monday, the hospital offered an update on Chomper, sharing footage of the animal swimming with the lightened right flipper in a pink cast. The turtle swam gently in a small pool during the 30-second clip.

According to the Turtle Hospital's website, the animal treatment center was started in 1986 in order to rehab injured sea turtles and return them to their natural habitat. The nonprofit also educates the public about wildlife, conducts research, and works "toward environmental legislation making the beaches and water safe and clean for sea turtles."