“Mint Chocolate Chip” (MC2) is one of 16 sea turtles that were brought to Gulf World Marine Institute on March 8, 2021. MC2 was originally rescued by the Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch, and taken to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island, GA. MC2 was later transferred to the Sea Turtle Hospital at Whitney Lab.
Many sea turtles are washing up in Northeast Florida, more than local facilities can hold. They are “debilitated”, which means lethargic (without energy) and have various other health concerns. In these situations, when space runs out at the local rehabilitation centers, they sometimes reach out to others. That’s where GWMI steps in! By taking some of the sea turtles, GWMI helps to open up more space in the counties where they are washing ashore.
MC2 has already begun eating and is doing well in the water so far. In addition to washing ashore from debilitation, MC2 has small tumor-like growths that are associated with a viral disease. This disease, called fibropapillomatosis (FP for short), is not well understood; however, research indicates it is similar to the herpes virus. This means it may become more obvious if a sea turtle’s body is stressed, as it could be from fighting other illness. These cases are unique, and must be watched closely. Tumor growth can be treated, but the sea turtle will always carry the virus. However, the good news is that sea turtles are able to live with this condition, and so facilities like GWMI can treat them in hopes of eventual release!
Thank you to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, as well as all of the organizations involved in the rescue, rehabilitation, and transfer of Ludo and the other sea turtles during this active stranding event.