A ventilator tube in its beak and an incision in its rear, an ailing sea turtle lay splayed before a medical team that surrounded the operating table in aqua-colored scrubs and collective, concentrated focus.
“Is he dosed?’’ asked Dr. Charles Innis, director of animal health at the New England Aquarium in Boston.
“He is,’’ answered Dr. Julie Cavin, who had just injected a powerful anesthetic into the reptile’s neck.
The small turtle, found half-dead on a Cape Cod beach in November, had come to the right place. Here, in the close quarters of the aquarium’s medical center, the Kemp’s Ridley turtle had already received two months of state-of-the-art care. Now, traces of urine had been found in its body cavity, and Innis wanted to investigate.
Such critical care is a somewhat hidden mission of the New England Aquarium, whose 30,000 marine animals garner nearly all the wide-eyed attention of the visitors who circle its imposing four-story fish tank. But with the cold weather that killed and sickened hordes of turtles in Florida this winter, the center’s expertise has taken on a national dimension.
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