1993 Turtle 8D

Fetches a 71K JPEG

That was then (inset, 1993) and this is the last time we saw him (1995).

Quickstats: Seen 1993, 1994, 1995. Summer updates: 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004.

We first met 8D in 1993 when we recorded her as a female. Photos from that year show little hint of the severity of the disease apparent in 8D today; he had small growths in the corner of his eyes, not unusual at all for a Honokowai turtle. In 1994, we noticed 8D's tail had grown considerably and we realized that were seeing a male.

93-8D has never received a name from us. He would not allow us to get close and we soon learned to keep our distance from him. He had a comfort zone that we are required to respect.

We were not prepared for how quickly tumors would develop in this animal in one year. By 1994, 8D showed increased tumor growth in both eyes, and the characteristic "horse apple" tumors along his neck. Grayish mounds of tumors worked their way along his shoulders as well.

In 1995, 8D became the most shocking example of tumor explosion in our resident population of green sea turtles. That his tumors could spread so rapidly in both number and magnitude is upsetting. Despite this, he still seemed to be a rather robust turtle. He has not yet exhibited the emaciation that typically comes with the severity of tumors he is forced to suffer.

Turtles with this size and number of tumors are highly vulnerable to becoming snagged on nets or tangled in fishing line. Swimming is also more difficult and the turtle tires easily. If the disease progresses as expected, this animal has two years at the most before he joins our growing list of "missing".

There was a highly interesting development concerning 8D in 1995. For the first time, we recorded long-nosed butterfly fish (Forcipiger flavissimus) engaged in cleaning tumors. This occurred at only one site, the place we call The Rock, and almost always it was 8D that was the focus of the attention of these fish. 8D also became much more tolerant of our presence, allowing us to get a picture that included a representative of each of the six species that we regularly saw cleaning turtles.

Summer 1996 Update

8D was not seen in 1996. We believe that 8D is dead.

Summer 1997 Update

8D was not seen in 1997.

Summer 1998 Update

8D was not seen in 1998.

Summer 1999 Update

8D was not seen in 1999.

Summer 2000 Update

8D was not seen in 2000.

Summer 2001 Update

8D was not seen in 2001.

Summer 2002 Update

8D was not seen in 2002.

Summer 2003 Update

8D was not seen in 2003.

Summer 2004 Update

8D was not seen in 2004.

1993 Turtle 11
Who's Who Underwater at Honokowai
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Last modified 04/09/11
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