By Development Communication Section
As part of their advocacy of airing special features on pressing environment and biodiversity issues, celebrity host and veterinarian Dr. Ferdinand Recio of GMA Network’s ‘Born to be Wild’ visited SEAFDEC Aquaculture Department (SEAFDEC/AQD) to provide medical assistance to rescued sea turtles with fibropapillomatosis and floater syndrome last 20 February 2019.
Esther, a female green sea turtle rescued at Ajuy in Iloilo, arrived at SEAFDEC/AQD’s FishWorld aquarium-museum in 2017.
“When Esther arrived in AQD, the animal was weak and had a poor appetite,” said Ms. Hananiah Pitogo, Officer-In-Charge of FishWorld.
Recently, Esther had been showing progress as she slowly eats and moves more than before. However, the wart-like tumors are getting bigger and are becoming a hindrance to the turtle’s movement and eating behavior.
Dr. Recio and his team filmed the removal of one of the tumors for biopsy and discussed Esther’s condition with Ms. Pitogo.
Fibropapillomatosis is a specific disease to sea turtles. According to Yunnan Baiyao (2009), it is a tumorous growth that kills sea turtles and is now affecting large numbers of sea turtles around the world. It has been hypothesized that this epidemic, which is believed to be linked to toxic ocean pollution, is affecting the sea turtles’ immune system.
Another female olive ridley turtle named Mikey has been in FishWorld for two years since he was rescued at Guimaras Island.
“Mikey has ‘Floater Syndrome’ which is a condition that inhibits turtles to dive for food or protection,” explained Ms. Pitogo.
Dr. Recio and FishWorld staff brought Mikey to a veterinary clinic for an x-ray to see the affected organ.
More about Esther’s and Mikey’s stories will be featured soon in GMA-7’s Born to be Wild which airs every Sunday at nine in the morning.