Comparative Clinical Pathology

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 567–573 | Cite as

Baseline blood values for healthy free-ranging green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) in Puerto Rico

  • Annie Page-Karjian
  • Samuel Rivera
  • Fernando Torres
  • Carlos Diez
  • Debra Moore
  • Robert Van Dam
  • Corrie Brown
Original Article


In Puerto Rico, green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) appear to congregate in certain areas that constitute neritic developmental habitats for juvenile green turtles and foraging habitats for migrating larger immature and adult green turtles. The objective of this study was to establish baseline blood health indices in free-ranging green sea turtles occupying such habitats in Puerto Rico. We analyzed packed cell volume, morphometrics, and plasma biochemistry and protein electrophoresis parameters for free-ranging green sea turtles in the Culebra archipelago of Puerto Rico. The general health of turtles included in this study was rated as good based on body condition, physical examination, and molecular diagnostics. We report packed cell volume, plasma biochemistry, and protein electrophoresis reference interval values for juvenile and subadult green sea turtles. Development of site-specific baseline blood health parameters for wild, healthy sea turtle populations is an important factor in creating effective management protocols and enhances our ability to understand the effects of anthropogenic and environmental changes on sea turtle health.


Chelonia mydas Clinical pathology Green sea turtle Plasma biochemistry Plasma protein electrophoresis Puerto Rico Reference intervals 



We thank the Morris Animal Foundation for funding, IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. for donating the laboratory analyses, and Dr. Paula Krimer for excellent advice on data interpretation and manuscript preparation.


  1. Aguirre AA, Balazs GH (2000) Blood biochemistry values in green sea turtles, Chelonia mydas, with and without fibropapillomatosis. Comp Haemotol Int 10:132–137CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arthur KE, Boyle MC, Limpus CJ (2008) Ontogenetic changes in green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) foraging behaviour as demonstrated by δ13C and δ15N stable isotope analysis. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 362:303–311CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Benedict AA, Pollard LW (1972) Three classes of immunoglobulins found in the sea turtle, Chelonia mydas. Folia Microbiol 17:75–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bjorndal KA, Bolten AB, Chaloupka MY (2000) Green turtle somatic growth model: evidence for density-dependence. Ecol Appl 10:269–282Google Scholar
  5. Bolten AB, Bjorndal KA (1992) Blood profiles for a wild population of green turtles (Cheloniamydas) in the southern Bahamas: size-specific and sex-specific relationships. J Wildl Dis 28:407–413CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Campbell T (2012) Clinical chemistry of reptiles. In: Thrall MA, Weiser G, Allison RW, Campbell TW (eds) Veterinary hematology and clinical chemistry. Wiley, Ames, pp 599–606Google Scholar
  7. Cray C (1997) Plasma protein electrophoresis: an update. Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Association of Avian Veterinarians 1997:209-212Google Scholar
  8. Cray C, Tatum LM (1998) Applications of protein electrophoresis in avian diagnostics. J Avian Med Surg 12:4–10Google Scholar
  9. Deem SL, Dierenfeld ES, Sounguet GP, Rick Alleman AR, Cray C, Poppenga RH, Norton TM, Karesh WB (2006) Blood values in free-ranging nesting leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) on the coast of the republic of Gabon. J Zoo Wildl Med 37:464–471CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Deem SL, Norton TM, Mitchell M, Segars A, Alleman AR, Cray C, Poppenga RH, Dodd M, Karesh WB (2009) Comparison of blood values in foraging, nesting, and stranded loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) along the coast of Georgia, USA. J Wildl Dis 45:41–56CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Diez CE, van Dam RP, Velez-Zuazo X, Torres F, Scharer M, Molina M (2010) Dean K, Lopez- Castro MC. In: Proceedings of the 28th annual symposium on sea turtle biology and conservation. NOAA Tech Memo NOAA NMFS-SEFSC. US Department of Commerce, Miami, p 272Google Scholar
  12. Dixon WJ (1983) Processing data for outliers. Biometrics 9:74–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Evans EW, Duncan JR (2003) Proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates. In: Latimer KS, Mahaffey EA, Prasse KW (eds) Duncan & Prasse’s Veterinary Laboratory Medicine Clinical Pathology, 4th edn. Blackwell Publishing Professional, Ames, pp 162–192Google Scholar
  14. Flint M, Morton JM, Limpus CJ, Patterson-Kane JC, Murray PJ, Mills PC (2010) Development and application of biochemical and haematological reference intervals to identify unhealthy green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas). The Vet J 185:299–304CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Friedrichs KR, Harr KE, Freeman KP, Szladovits B, Walton RM, Barnhart KF, Blanco-Chavez J (2012) American College of Veterinary Pathology reference interval guidelines: determination of de novo reference intervals in veterinary species and other related topics. Vet Clin Pathol 41:441–453CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Garnett ST, Price IR, Scott FJ (1985) The diet of the green turtle, Chelonia mydas (L.), in Torres Strait. Austral Wildl Res 12:103–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gicking JC, Foley AM, Harr KE, Raskin RE, Jacobson E (2004) Plasma protein electrophoresis of the Atlantic loggerhead sea turtle, Caretta caretta. J Herpetol Med Surg 14:13–18Google Scholar
  18. Hamann M, Schäuble CS, Simon T, Evans S (2006) Demographic and health parameters of green sea turtles Chelonia mydas foraging in Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia. Endang Sp Res 2:81–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hasbun CR, Lawrence AJ, Naldo J, Samour JH, Al-Ghais SM (1998) Normal blood chemistry of free-living green sea turtles, Chelonia mydas, from the United Arab Emirates. Comp Haematol Int 8:174–177CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Herbst LH, Jacobson ER (2003) Practical approaches for studying sea turtle health and disease. In: Lutz P, Musick JA, Wyneken J (eds) The Biology of Sea Turtles, Vol II. CRC Press, New York, pp 385–410Google Scholar
  21. Jacobson ER, Bjorndal K, Bolten A, Herren R, Harman G, Wood L (2008) Establishing plasma biochemical and hematocrit reference intervals for sea turtles in Florida,, Accessed September 2013
  22. Kaneko JJ (1997) Serum proteins and the dysproteinemias. In: Kaneko JJ, Harvey JW, Bruss ML (eds) Clinical Biochemistry of Domestic Animals, 5th edn. Academic Press Inc., San Diego, pp 117–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Masquera S, Masegu J, Planos J (1976) Blood proteins in turtles (Testudo hermanni, Emys orbicularis, Caretta caretta). Comp Biochem Physiol 55:225–230CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Mortimer JA (1982) Feeding ecology of sea turtles. In: Bjorndal KA (ed) Biology and conservation of sea turtles. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, p 103Google Scholar
  25. Osborne AG, Jacobson ER, Bresette MJ, Singewald DA, Scarpino RA, Bolten AB (2010) Reference intervals and relationships between health status, carapace length, body mass, and water temperature and concentrations of plasma total protein and protein electrophoretogram fractions in Atlantic loggerhead sea turtles and green turtles. J Am Vet Med Assoc 237(5):561–561CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Owens DW, Ruiz GJ (1980) New methods of obtaining blood and cerebrospinal fluid from marine turtles. Herpetol 36:17–20Google Scholar
  27. Page-Karjian A, Torres F, Zhang J, Diez C, Moore PA, Moore D, Brown C (2012) Presence of chelonid fibropapilloma-associated herpesvirus in tumored and non-tumored green turtles, as detected by polymerase chain reaction, in endemic and non-endemic populations, Puerto Rico. Springer Plus 1:35. doi: 10.1186/2193-1801-1-35
  28. Patrício AR, Velez-Zuazo X, Diez CE, Van Dam R, Sabat AM (2011) Survival probability of immature green turtles in two foraging grounds at Culebra, Puerto Rico. Mar Progr Ecol Ser 440:217–227CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Patrício AR, Diez CE, van Dam RP (2014) Spatial and temporal variability of immature green turtle abundance and somatic growth in Puerto Rico. Endanger Species Res 23:49–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Perrault JR, Wyneken J, Page-Karjian A, Merrill A, Miller DL (2014) Seasonal trends in nesting leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) serum proteins further verify capital breeding hypothesis. Conserv Physiol 2:doi: 10.1093/conphys/cou002
  31. Reed AH, Henry RJ, Mason WB (1971) Influence of statistical method used on the resulting estimate or normal range. Clin Chem 17:275–284PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Seminoff JA, U.S. Southwest Fisheries Science Center(2004) Chelonia mydas. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, v.2013.1, Accessed September 2013
  33. Sibley CG, Johnsgard PA (1959) Variability in the electrophoretic patterns of avian serum proteins. Condor 61:85–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Velez-Zuazo X, Diez CE, van Dam RP, Torres-Velez F (2010) Genetic structure and origin of a juvenile aggregation affected by fibropapillomatosis: potential impact on adult recruitment. In: Dean K, Lopez- Castro MC (eds) Proceedings of the 28th Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation.NOAA Tech Memo NOAA NMFS-SEFSC. US Department of Commerce, Miami, p 272Google Scholar
  35. Wallace BP, DiMatteo AD, Hurley BJ, Finkbeiner EM, Bolten AB, Chaloupka MY, Hutchinson BJ, Abreu-Grobois FA, Amorocho D, Bjorndal KA, Bourjea J, Bowen BW, Duenas RB, Casale P, Choudhury BC, Costa A, Dutton PH, Fallabrino A, Girard A, Girondot M, Godfrey MH, Hamann M, Lopez-Mendilaharsu M, Marcovaldi MA, Mortimer JA, Musick JA, Nei R, Pilcher NJ, Seminoff JA, Troeng S, Witherington B, Mast RB (2010) Regional management units for marine turtles: a novel framework for prioritizing conservation and research across multiple scales. PLoS ONE 5:e15465CrossRefPubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Walton RM (2001) Establishing reference intervals: health as a relative concept. Semin Avian Exotic Pet Med 10:66–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Whiting SD, Guinea MI, Limpus CJ, Formiatti K (2007) Blood chemistry reference values for two ecologically distinct populations of foraging green turtles, eastern Indian Ocean. Comp Clin Pathol 16:109–118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Work TM, Balazs GH (1999) Relating tumour score to haematology in green turtles with fibropapillomatosis in Hawaii. J Wildl Dis 35:804–807CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Zais J, Cray C (2002) Protein electrophoresis: a tool for the reptilian and amphibian practitioner. J Herpetol Med Surg 12:30–32Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Annie Page-Karjian
    • 1
  • Samuel Rivera
    • 2
  • Fernando Torres
    • 3
  • Carlos Diez
    • 4
  • Debra Moore
    • 5
  • Robert Van Dam
    • 6
  • Corrie Brown
    • 1
  1. 1.College of Veterinary MedicineUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  2. 2.Zoo AtlantaAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic LaboratoryUSDA-APHISGreenportUSA
  4. 4.Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental ResourcesSan JuanPuerto Rico
  5. 5.Caribbean Center of Marine StudiesLajasPuerto Rico
  6. 6.Chelonia Inc.San JuanPuerto Rico

Personalised recommendations