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Tumors Plague Indian River Lagoon Turtles, And Researchers Want To Know Why

Andrea Westmoreland

There's a new effort to determine why green sea turtles in the Indian River Lagoon are covered with tumors. Nearly half of the green sea turtles in the Indian River Lagoon suffer from the tumors.

Kate Mansfield of the University of Central Florida says the number and range of cases are expanding. But what’s causing them is a mystery. Mansfield says all of the turtles with the tumors have a certain virus, but not every turtle with that virus has tumors. So other contributors are suspected."The ones that are most severe tend to be the ones that have their eyes covered by the tumors, or their mouths or esophagus might be blocked or close to being blocked by the tumors, which really would impair their ability to find food and essentially eat", said Mansfield.

Green sea turtles are endangered. Florida's east coast is among the world's most significant nesting sites. The troubled Indian River Lagoon is the focus of a regional restoration effort.