Dying to fart: Rhea raring to let one rip
A GREEN sea turtle has been receiving lifesaving treatment at the Ark Aid Animal Hospital for a peculiar problem - she can't fart, which prevents her from diving underwater.
Veterinarian Jamaya Monteiro-Pereira said the 50kg turtle, now affectionately named Rhea, wasn't able to submerge because she's been full of gas that can't pass through her digestive system.
"We took some X-rays and discovered excess gas within the gut," he said.
"Usually that indicates an obstruction of some type, and that's typically what you'll see with floating turtles.
"At the moment, she still has gut sounds and her gut is trying to move. So we're helping her with medication to try and pass it through. Hopefully we'll see her start to dive and we can get her through the rehab."
The gassy issue is potentially life-threatening. Without the ability to dive underwater for food, Rhea may have perished were it not for the good will of the fishermen who found her.
The keen-eyed fishermen first identified an issue when they realised Rhea wasn't able to submerge, so they collected her and brought her to Darwin for life-saving treatment on Friday.
"They could see she was floating. In Darwin, a lot of people are pretty switched on about our marine life," Ms Monteiro-Pereira said.
"Seeing her floating for some time, especially when they came up close, was abnormal for a sea turtle. That was their first indication."
Fortunately for Rhea, and thanks to the Animal Ark, there are facilities available for her to recuperate before she's released back to the wild.
"We have a large tank out the back which is being cleaned perfectly for Rhea today. She'll go into there, and once we have signs that she's diving and responding to medication, she'll go to the turtle rehab facility here in Darwin," Ms Monteiro-Pereira said.
"Once she's all good on their end, she'll be released back into the wild."