Importance of Natural Resources

Bermuda’s Green Sea Turtles | Ocean Vet | S01 E05 | Free Documentary


This is Doctor Neil Burnie. He lives in Bermuda, a stunning Atlantic Island
six hundred and forty miles east of North Carolina, USA.He’s spent the last thirty
years practicing veterinary medicine, but now he’s transferring his veterinary skills
to help save, protect, and learn more about the incredible marine life of Bermuda’s
Ocean. This is a completely wild shark. Alongside his dedicated Ocean Vet team, are
a number of scientists, Yeah, this and probably. marine biologists,
Just cut a little nick off the back fin. and specialist master divers, helping to perform
a number of unique and dangerous procedures, in a bid to safeguard critically important
marine species.Together, the team will be fitting satellite tags to huge tiger sharks,
saving precious green turtles, dissecting giant blue marlin, and obtaining unique toxin
samples from forty five tonne, migrating, humpback whales. Yay! Woo hoo!My knees are like jell-o. Yes, man! This is Bermuda! Home to Doctor Neil Burnie, the Ocean Vet. The green sea turtle is one of the most recognised
and loved reptiles in all of the world’s oceans. Like many marine species, these turtles are
under threat. Poachers, pollution, and fishing nets are
all factors that have placed this animal on the endangered species list. Annie, hi! Peter! Jennifer! Great to see you! In this episode, Neil and the Ocean Vet crew
will be working alongside the Bermuda Turtle Project, performing a number of unique procedures
to monitor the health and population dynamics of Bermuda’s juvenile green sea turtles. It’s right there! Neil will also be working with the Bermuda
Aquarium’s Turtle Stranding Unit, to recover, rehabilitate, and re-release injured turtles
back into the wild. Finally, Neil, and Choy will attach a satellite
tracking tag to a larger, more mature green turtle in a bid to gather unique data which
is vital to support the ongoing conservation and protection of this internationally loved
species. Neil, and his Ocean Vet team have been invited
to assist the Bermuda Turtle Project, by project leader, Jennifer Grey, a lady who has dedicated
most of her life to the study and conservation of green sea turtles. Close off the circle, so. She is supported by Doctors; Peter, and Anne
Meylan, the project scientific directors and veterans of the Bermuda Turtle Project. Peter! Hey! Great to see ya. Annie! Great to see you again! Excellent! It’s been a while. Jennifer! Hey, Neil! What are we going to be doing today? Catching lots of turtles, Neil. You guys ready? Can’t wait. Excellent! So who are all the participants here? Can we have a list of names quickly? Who’s who? Start from here. I’m Alice. This international mix of participants will
assist with the capture of the turtles. This process is quite straightforward, a large
deep net is used to encircle an area of seagrass beds inhabited by the turtles. As the turtles try to escape they swim into
the soft netting. So, these are all our course participants. And it’s our job to get the turtles to the
surface as soon as they enter the net. We’re gonna then bring them back to Endurance
and work them up, and hopefully one of them will be big enough that we’ll be able to
put a satellite tag on it. Satellite tag data, along with DNA and blood
research, is enabling this project to build a visual web of migratory paths, populations,
and breeding sites, helping to improve the world wide conservation of this beautiful
reptile. So we’ve got the turtle that swam into the
net, brought it to the surface. Leanna, is disentangling it from the net,
and I am giving a hand signal to the boat so that they know we have one to be picked
up. Choy Aming, Neil’s right hand man and series
marine biologist, is on the capture boat with Jennifer Grey collecting the retrieved turtles. Ok, so, Neil is dead ahead and he’s got
another turtle, and there’s also about four or five others that some of the other participants
have. So, turtles everywhere! We’ve gotta get this guy in the boat as
quick as possible! I’m not, i’m not sure how many times we
see this. I think it’s only Ocean Vet where one has
wrapped around the other one. So this is definitely, er, a boat disentanglement
here. Yes, ok. So for every one of these guys, there should
be ninety nine more in the ocean. And we’ve taken them out, so we’ve gotta
do everything we can to preserve all these green turtles, because this is the last of
them. Retrieving these turtles is no easy task,
constantly untangling them, then holding them at the surface is challenging. These reptiles can weigh in excess of twenty
kilos. So it requires quite a bit of teamwork to
get these bigger turtles out of the net. But, Choy, if you can grab it. Yeah. This, actually, may be a candidate for our
satellite tag, it’s quite a large turtle. So far we’ve been out all of about ten or
fifteen minutes, and we’ve got nine turtles in the boat, and we’ve still got a few more
to grab. We’ve seen a few swimming around, darting
in the, er, sand, so good hold thus far. And we’re probably only about half way through. Even the smaller turtles can present a challenge. Having the capture boat close by, ensures
the welfare and safety of every turtle. Alright. Great, guys! This guy’s a little too entangled for me,
so i’m going to pass him up to you guys. Ok. Luckily he’s small enough. So, that little turtle was a little too badly
entangled for me to get him out whilst he’s in the water. So we simply bring him onto the capture boat,
and Choy and Cameron are gonna disentangle him. I’m just gonna wet down the rest of our
turtles, keep them nicely cool, while they’re waiting in the capture boat to get back to
the Endurance. Alright. This is our smallest guy yet, isn’t he cute? So we’re just gonna stick him in the back,
and, er, beautiful, small specimen. Fantastic.Ok. There you go, you got it? Good, man. Green sea turtles are air breathers, so being
out of the water is not harmful to them. By cushioning the turtles on these foam noodles,
Neil and the team ensure they remain calm and secure during the tagging and sampling
procedures. So every turtle that comes on board gets scanned
with this micro chip scanner. This is exactly the same one that I use at
my vet practice, and Michaela has seen these at Endsmeet, cos we use these on the dogs
and cats. So, we’re gonna scan this animal, and we’re
gonna scan this left flipper. And we’re gonna see if there’s a tag in
it. And this one doesn’t have one. And we’re gonna keep moving around the group. We’re gonna come to this one. Uh! Here we go! We can now go and find the details of when
this animal was chipped previously, what it’s history was, and what it’s tag number was
that it shared, because it’s obviously lost the external tag that was applied at the same
time as the PIT tag. So, fourteen August, 2007, she was marked. 14th August, 2007, almost seven years ago,
and she’s back here. And I say ‘she,’ with impunity, right? Because she’s been sexed? Well, I have to, I have to look at the database
to tell you for sure. Oh, Ok. Alright. Some of the turtles don’t have the micro
chips installed, so after fitting some new external fin tags, Neil and Peter implant
new micro chips. So we’ve got a perfect ID number that’s
unique to this animal, means researchers can find this, fishermen will be able to identify
this creature by simply reading this tag. You seeing these here, Jen? Do these look like heel bite marks to you? Yeah, they look like bite marks. They do, don’t they? Yep, Neil! Neil, around? Choy and Jennifer spot signs of injury to
one of the turtle’s flippers, so Neil comes in to assess the animal. And, look! I think there’s one more on the front as
well, man. So if we compare this rear flipper to the
one on the turtle next to him, you can see there’s two quite clear semi circular indentations
where pieces of tissue have been removed and have then healed over. And the same on his back flipper here, two
discreet bite marks, and then something from the front also. It’s common for these turtles to sustain
injuries as they grow up in the waters around Bermuda. Predators, such as galapagos sharks and even
much larger tiger sharks are known to feed on these turtles. Anyway, he seems to be none the worse for
it. And, it’s obviously, he’s able to swim
fine. It’s just a little bit of an interesting,
er, disfigurement. These turtles can weigh up to one hundred
and eighty kilos, or four hundred pounds when mature. Weighing them is an important part of monitoring
their health. Ok, so we’ve just strapped in our turtle. You can see we’ve got a rope on each fin. We’ve just put him into the scale. You can see he hangs quite nicely. He seems reasonably relaxed. We’re just waiting for the scale to get
a reading on his exact weight. So this guy’s about twenty one point six
kilograms, yeah. So, that’s a good sized animal. They’re solid little guys. Next, Neil needs to take some blood. So we’re just preparing this turtle to have
blood samples drawn for DNA analysis and for sexing purposes.There it is. There’s your blood. Is that sufficient? A little more, just a little more. There’s all our DNA that we need. Plenty.Put that blue lid on there. Oops. These DNA samples will be compared with that
of other international green sea turtle populations. If there’s a match, then the turtle project
can determine what region that specific juvenile little green turtle has come from to reach
Bermuda. A lot of blood to spin today. Sure, sure. Now that the blood samples have been taken,
Choy, Robert, and some of the other participants are processing them in the on board lab. Now, you can see there’s a slight colour
variance as I pull these out. Er, these more yellowish tinged serums here,
they’re from older turtles and the thinking is it’s a pigment from all the seagrass
that they’re eating, so that’s kind of neat. So the younger turtles have a clear serum,
and the older turtles have, er, sort of a yellowish serum to them. Ok. Oh, that’s a much more clear sample. So if you look at these two you can see that
one is a lot lighter, that’s probably from a younger turtle, and that yellowish stuff,
those are the pigments from the seagrass that we were speaking about. Once the blood sampling is complete and the
serum is extracted, Neil is ready to release these turtles back into the wild. So we’ve had a great day here at Somerset
Long Bay. We’ve got a whole lot of turtles that we’ve
worked up and we’re getting ready to release them. We’ve kept one back, cos we’re gonna put
that satellite tag on that one creature. It’s been a wonderful project! Oh, it’s been a great day! Over the last forty years this study’s been
going on. And it’s providing data that not only protects
these turtles here in Bermuda, but throughout their Caribbean range. Right. So i’m going to get into the water and,
er, we’re gonna get these guys released and let them swim away. The research that’s been conducted today
will make a huge difference in the fight to preserve green sea turtle populations, not
just in Bermuda, but all over the world. That was the last one. They’re all gone. Yeah. Good work. That’s great, Choy. It was really good. All the turtles got released. We collected a whole bunch of data. It was a fantastic day all round. Great success for Ocean Vet, and the Bermuda
Turtle Project. So great job, guys! Awesome!There we go. Little baby. It’s like a nursery. The turtle project is not alone in it’s
battle to save this species. Neil is assisting another project which helps
ensure the survival of Bermuda’s green sea turtles. This is the turtle exhibit at the Bermuda
Aquarium Museum and Zoo. And these two girls were actually hatched
here on the sand beach you can see behind me. There is also a wildlife rehabilitation centre
here at the Aquarium, where injured or sick turtles are brought for their recovery. The Bermuda Turtle Project works hard to ensure
the health of green turtles in Bermuda, but sadly some are injured by the ingestion of
plastic, ingestion of other toxins, or even being injured by boats. They’re brought here, and when they’re
recovered they’re released back into the wild. So it’s somewhere on this beach. Oh yeah, there it is! It’s right there. Neil is working with Patrick from the Turtle
Stranding Network. Yeah, they said it was under the mangroves. They’re responding to a call reporting a
turtle that’s been washed up on Gibbet’s Beach, not far from the Aquarium. Cool. What’s that? So. A little green, right? Yep. A little green. Wow. Alright, let me go get the tub, alright? Looks a little. Yeah. Sure, man. Alright Patrick, you go and get the tub and
we’ll get this guy back to the Aquarium. Alright, cool. I’ll be right back. Alright, let me just see.So the first thing
we’re going to do is assess for any type of external injuries on this animal, see if
he’s been hit by a boat, if he’s got any prop damage. I’m gonna just take him into the ocean. I’m gonna carry him. I’m going to rinse him off. This is one of, er, many thousands of immature
green turtles who spend their time here as they’re growing up. And on my first exam, the great news is his
carapace has not been injured. We quite commonly see prop cuts all the way
through the shell, right the way through into the internal organs. This animal is not damaged. And, again, so we look at his ventral surface,
we look at his plastron, and his plastron is also in tact. ‘Hi, baby!’ He actually looks in pretty good shape. The only thing I would say is he’s pretty
quiet for a little green turtle, normally they’d be fighting me and trying to get
away. He’s maybe, he’s maybe a little excessively
buoyant. Yeah, he’s floating a little too high. He should be able to be neutral, to be able
to pull himself down and sit on the bottom, and this guy’s floating with a large part
of his back out of the water. So he may have an accumulation of gas in his
abdomen. He may have eaten something that’s blocking
his intestines and so the gas is not escaping.So we’re gonna get him over to the Aquarium
and we’ll get Doctor Ian Walker, who’s the curator there, we’ll get him to do a
full and thorough examination of this turtle and we’ll see if we can help him out. So, yeah, if we like get him up on this table
once we’re gloved, I can do that. Doctor Ian Walker is chief curator at the
Aquarium Museum and Zoo and has years of experience working with a myriad of different species,
including turtles. Alright. Roma, if you could just hit that light for
me. After a routine physical examination and X-Ray,
he has a suspicion of what the problem with this turtle might be. What we have right here is the trachea coming
down and then breaking in the two, er, two primary bronchi. Just like you, or I? Exactly, exactly. Erm, now interestingly enough their lungs
aren’t sitting in, er, sort of, in the thorax, they don’t have a diaphragm, so it’s just
sitting there in their coelomic cavity. Um, and consequently if they get over inflated,
they float. But this is actually a normal reaction for
sea turtles, in the wild. So a sea turtle in the wild, when it’s in
trouble, will over inflate it’s lungs as a way of bringing it to the surface so that
it can rest at the surface. That way it doesn’t have to expend effort
every time it comes to the surface to breath, because remember these are obligate air breathers,
they have to be up there. Yeah, we’ve seen turtles like this before
and our current theory is that they’ve probably ingested too much, er, jellyfish. Er, so some of the pneumatosis, well they’re
getting a lot of pneumatosis, these are the stinging cells. Right. from the jellyfish, are in their intestines
constantly stinging them and constantly delivering venom into their system.…A little bit. So we’ll see. We’re gonna just slide that in gently. So we’re sliding it in to the cloaca. Doctor Walker decides to perform an enema
on the turtle to see if he can gather a sample of the stinging cells. Wow! So this is a pneumatosis. This is what you’re expecting to see? Yep, this exactly. Based on the clinical signs of the animal,
this is exactly what we thought we might see in this fecal. So it’s proven this animal’s eaten, probably,
a jellyfish, er, and presumably there’s a lot more of these in the intestine. These pneumatosis, when we look at them like
this, we can see everything’s coiled up inside them. It’s really like a jack in a box where the
head of the jack in the box is jammed inside the spring, and as the spring comes out everything
turns inside out like this, and then right at the end of it there’s a stinging needle
with a bunch of venom in it. So if these things unload inside the turtle,
they poison the turtle from the inside. Hopefully, this little turtle, after a few
days under the care of Patrick, Rhoma, and Ian, is gonna recover and hopefully we’ll
get a chance to release it back into the wild. This little turtle will remain at the Bermuda
Aquarium Museum and Zoo until it’s fully recovered. Neil will return later to release it back
into the wild. Next up, Neil and Choy are back working with
the Bermuda Turtle Project to fit a satellite tag to the shell of one of the larger green
turtles they collected earlier. So the value of this type of tag is immense. Not only will it tell us the day to day, hour
to hour movements of this turtle on and off his feeding site to his resting sites, when
he may be at risk crossing major boat channels, but also if this turtle does go on his long-term
migration then we may be able to see what route this turtle uses to return towards the
nesting site where he originated. The conservation of these turtles is truly
an international venture, and that’s what the Bermuda Turtle Project is all about. Ok. So this is the satellite tag, and it’s the
exact same company and exact same technology that we use on our tiger sharks. It’s just a different model so it can attach
to a turtle shell, just like that. And this antenna, here, what it will do is
every time the turtle surfaces it will relay data to a satellite and we will get real time
movements on where this turtle is. So we will be able to track him almost as
if he had a cellphone. Ok. Looking good, I think. Yeah. So we’re almost ready to apply the tag.So,
Robert, I think we’ll let you do the honours for this. Yeah, and, er, here I think you wanna make
a little ridge on the front, so i’ll just keep the chopstick at the ready. Alright. Just give it a nice squeeze down. Get it good in-seeded in the epoxy. So we’re making sure we have a nice, smooth
attachment between the shell and the tag. With the tag firmly bonded to the turtle’s
shell it’s time for Neil and the team to release this beautiful animal back into the
ocean. So after an epic day here tagging and recording
data from turtles we’re now gonna let this girl go. We’ve named her, Kirsty. And we’re gonna hope that this animal will
actually leave Bermuda and go on it’s developmental migratory path, and we can follow this animal
to some destination in the Caribbean. Who knows where. I’m gonna get in the water and make sure
she swims away strongly. So I take it you’re gonna try and hold her
upright, right? Yeah. Yeah. Just make sure she’s comfortable in the
water, takes a few breaths. Ok. Just take the weight on the back for a sec,
until, there! Perfect. Nice. Alright, good grip? So i’m just gonna wait for her to take a
good breath and then i’m gonna let her go. The release of this turtle marks the beginning
of a research project which will have far wider reaching ramifications than the distance
this turtle will travel in it’s lifetime. And it will help ensure the continued research
and conservation of it’s entire species. Wow! So, she took off like a rocket! As soon as I let her go, gone! Out of sight, right? Wicked! Ha ha. By working with these animals, Neil and his
team have helped to ensure that green sea turtles are protected not just in Bermuda,
but all over the world. These animals have a critical role in the
ocean’s marine ecosystem. By gathering samples and tagging these turtles,
Neil and his team have ensured the continued fight for this animal’s survival. Back at the Aquarium, Neil and Choy have received
good news about the sick turtle rescued earlier. So this is the little turtle that we brought
into wildlife rehab a few days ago, and he’s fully recovered from the ingestion of those
poisonous jellyfish stinging cells. It’s time for Choy, Patrick, and I to return
him to the ocean. The turtle is being loaded onto the Ocean
Vet boat, Bones. From here, Neil, Choy, and Patrick will transfer
the turtle to it’s release site. Neil and the team have selected a location
that is rich with seagrass beds, the perfect habitat for this juvenile, little green sea
turtle to thrive. Thanks, Patrick. Your welcome. The Bermuda Turtle Project, the stranding
network, and the conservation projects that support the research and protection of these
marine turtles around the world, make a profound difference. But there’s still so much more that can
be done. We wish this guy all the best. He has a tough road ahead as he continues
on his epic journey. Good luck, little one! This little green sea turtle is once again
free to roam the seagrass beds of Bermuda. It’s thanks to the continued efforts from
all the individuals featured in this programme that the battle to get these turtles off the
endangered species list may eventually be won. Next time on Ocean Vet, Neil and his team
are on a rescue mission to save a prehistoric shark. They’ll have to utilise all of their skills
and expertise if they are to save this animal and ensure it returns safely back into the
deep.


Reader Comments

  1. Finally 1st like and comment. I created an inspirational travel channel called RJinspire to motivate others to start travelling and challenging themselves to do something different. Come check it out and I will follow back.

  2. Someone should find a better way to retrieve sea animals for research I’m
    Not an expert but the turtles look stressed by the net .

  3. Great work these people are doing!! Thank you so much! I have to add that the guy attaching the radio to the back of the turtle might want to cut back on his coffee intake. His hands were seriously shaking around 23:20 and I’m sure it had nothing to do with the work which I’m sure he’s highly experienced with. Haha!

  4. How and where do you maintain a list of injuries caused my capturing and examining the animals?

  5. Be nice if someday we can enjoy their presence, rather than the constant undertone of desperation and lament because of the insidious onslaught of humans, to these and almost every other species on this planet.

  6. What a fun little career torturing turtles. I guarantee these university psychopaths think they are the real conservationists.

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