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Texas A&M-Kingsville Vet Tech program assists with sea turtle surgeries

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Texas A&M University-Kingsville students assisted a surgical team with the Texas State Aquarium as they performed surgeries on green sea turtles Wednesday, March 9, 2022 in the Veterinary Technology facility on campus. 

Texas State Aquarium employees utilized a laser at the facility to treat Fibropapillomatosis (FP), a tumor-causing disease that affects some sea turtles. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the disease causes cauliflower-like tumors to form on the skin, including the eyes and mouth.

“This condition makes them grow these tumors that can impede eyesight and movement so that they can survive in the wild, so before they're released we make sure we take these tumors off so that they have a better chance of survival,” said Christine Hoskinson, Assistant Director for the Veterinary Technology Program.

The laser is used to make an incision on the top layers of skin and can take several weeks to heal.

Valerie Edwards, Licensed Veterinary Technician at Texas State Aquarium, assisted with the surgery and worked with the students.

“We're able to use their [Texas A&M-Kingsville’s] laser and that's really helpful with the fibropapillomas that we're trying to remove. It makes it safer and it's quicker, easier recovery time. They also have extra hands on deck which are always great when you're putting an animal under anesthesia,” she said.

Veterinary Technology student Rebecca Johnston said she learned important information from attending the surgery on the seven turtles.

“I am picking up some things,” Johnston said. “I thought it was going to be very difficult but the doctor and all the technicians are explaining everything really easily for us.”

She also said it was important for the community to be educated on rescuing sea turtles, like knowing they should not pick up the turtles and take them anywhere.

“The students are really excited and it's really wonderful to see that they want to learn, they want to grow and they're wanting to share our experiences,” Edwards said. “It's just a good opportunity for us to get to practice and share our knowledge and it’s great for them so they can learn new experiences.”

Category: Ag/Env & Wildlife Sci , General Univ

Photo of Monica Alfaro

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