A loggerhead sea turtle with an enormous tumor the size of a basketball on its right flipper is scheduled to go into surgery to remove it Saturday at a renowned Florida Keys animal hospital.
The male turtle was found tangled in fishing line off Duck Key in the Middle Keys on Thursday by boaters who brought it aboard their boat and took it to the Turtle Hospital in the city of Marathon. The hospital is solely dedicated to the rehabilitation of sick and injured sea turtles.
Hospital staff named him Chomper.
He is a sub-adult, said hospital manager Bette Zirkelbach, which means he’s not yet fully mature. She said tumors are rarely seen on loggerheads, especially growths of this size.
Chomper weighs 150 pounds, but Zirkelbach said the tumor might account for about 20 pounds of that weight.
“In 30 years, we’ve never seen a tumor that big,” Zirkelbach said.
Veterinarian Dr. Terry Norton is scheduled to operate on Chomper Saturday morning.
Zirkelbach said she is “cautiously optimistic.”
“We are hoping Dr. Norton is able to save Chomper’s flipper,” she said.