Buoyancy Problems in Sea Turtles: Causes and Diagnosis
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 1997
Elliott R. Jacobson, DVM, PhD
Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida Gainesville, FL, USA


Buoyancy problems in captive and free-ranging sea turtles are common and are seen as either difficulties in diving or floating at an angle to the surface. Buoyancy problems can result from infectious diseases and noninfectious diseases such as trauma and congenital defects in organ development. Viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections may result in respiratory tract disease and may be manifested as buoyancy problems. Gas collecting in the gastrointestinal tract may result in the turtle floating with the affected side up. Trauma to the lung and/or penetrating wounds such as from boat injuries may result in pneumocoelom. Blunt trauma to the caudal carapace from boat injuries often result in cord transection and flotation problems. Diagnostic techniques for determining causes of buoyancy problems in sea turtle include conventional radiographic imaging, magnetic resonance imaging and computerized axial tomography (CAT) scans, and endoscopy/bronchoscopy.


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Elliott R. Jacobson, DVM, PhD
Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences
College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL, USA

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