Blood analytes of immature Kemp's ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys kempii) from Georgia, USA: Reference intervals and body size correlations

Justin R. Perrault, Michael D. Arendt, Jeffrey A. Schwenter, Julia L. Byrd, Craig A. Harms, Carolyn Cray, Kathryn A. Tuxbury, Lawrence D. Wood, Nicole I. Stacy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Health assessments of wildlife species are becoming increasingly important in an ever-changing environment. Kemp's ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys kempii; hereafter, Kemp's ridleys) are critically endangered and incur several on-going threats to their population recovery; therefore, it is imperative to advance the understanding of baseline blood analyte data as a diagnostic and monitoring tool. For in-water, trawl-captured, immature Kemp's ridleys (minimum N = 31) from Georgia, USA, the objectives of this study were to (1) establish reference intervals (RIs) for packed cell volume (PCV) and 27 plasma biochemistry analytes and (2) determine length-specific relationships in blood analytes. We observed significant positive correlations between minimum straight carapace length and PCV, amylase, calcium:phosphorus ratio, cholesterol, magnesium, triglycerides, total solids, total protein and all protein fractions (e.g. alpha-, beta- and gamma-globulins); aspartate aminotransferase and chloride showed significant negative relationships. These results suggest that certain blood analytes in Kemp's ridleys change as these animals grow, presumptively due to somatic growth and dietary shifts. The information presented herein, in due consideration of capture technique that may have impacted glucose and potassium concentrations, represents the first report of blood analyte RIs for Kemp's ridley sea turtles established by guidelines of the American Society for Veterinary Clinical Pathology and will have direct applications for stranded individuals in rehabilitative care and for future investigations into the health status of wild individuals from this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbercoaa091
JournalConservation Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020


  • Health
  • in-water study
  • marine turtle
  • packed cell volume
  • plasma biochemistry
  • protein electrophoresis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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