Mote treats turtles with tumor-causing illness


Mote treats turtles with tumor-causing illness


Date: November 4, 2009
by: Robin Hartill | Community Editor


Mote Marine Laboratory’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital staff members are treating four green sea turtles for papilloma tumors, growths on soft tissues that can disable or kill a turtle.

Mote is one of three Florida facilities that treats the tumor in turtles. Turtles with this illness are kept in a separate room from others at Mote to avoid spreading the disease.

“Because the virus that causes the tumors can be spread from animal to animal, they essentially have to be quarantined,” said Lynne Byrd, Mote’s medical care coordinator, in a prepared statement. “The state is short on hospitals that will accept pap turtles, and that’s one of the reasons Mote has special facilities to take care of them — but even we’re getting full.”

To make room for Willis, a green turtle with multiple large tumors who was found tangled in fishing line Oct. 18, hospital staff put green pap turtles Ben and Dasher together in a single pool.

“They’re great roommates,” Byrd said. “Dasher was a really excitable turtle, but he seems calmer around Ben. They spend a lot of time close together.”

Pap turtles are watched closely and released after the tumors are gone.

Contact Robin Hartill at

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