I feel bad for the turtles

A completely credulous, poorly researched, biased and kind of silly article about acupuncture for sea turtles.

Acupuncture helps hypothermic turtles – Quincy, MA – The Patriot Ledger.

Two endangered sea turtles that are shells of their former selves after getting stranded on Cape Cod during a cold spell are getting some help easing back into the wild – from an acupuncturist.

Dexter and Fletcher Moon, juvenile Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles, remained calm as acupuncturist Claire McManus gently tapped more than a dozen needles into their grayish-green, leathery skin during a therapy session intended to decrease inflammation and swelling on their front flippers, restore a full range of motion on those limbs and help the animals regain their appetites.

McManus, the acupuncturist, was restrained when describing her reaction to the results.

“It makes me feel very happy,” McManus said. “Acupuncture is not alternative to conventional medicine – they are also receiving Western treatments as well, but the fact that it can work in conjunction with the other treatments they are getting makes me very happy.”

Our regular reader David Wood also sent us this story. He notes the writer incorrectly calls the turtles “mammals”. (They are reptiles.)

“There aren’t a lot of people doing sea turtle acupuncture,” said McManus, who works alongside a vet to find parts of the marine mammals’ bodies corresponding to locations where acupuncturists put needles to treat front limbs. “There is not a whole lot of literature out there on turtle acupuncture, so I’m basing it on how we treat other animals and humans.”

Why WOULD there be literature on this? It makes zero sense.

She also seems restrained when describing her reaction to the results. Because they are ALSO RECEIVING conventional treatments.

So, this is a completely worthless claim. The explanation could just as well be that something else is working for their improvement. In fact, it’s almost certainly the case since acupuncture, based on magical energy called “qi” that has never been shown to actually exist, does not do anything that actually helps humans with these conditions. Why would it work on animals?

  4 comments for “I feel bad for the turtles

  1. spookyparadigm
    May 21, 2013 at 3:19 PM

    “There aren’t a lot of people doing sea turtle acupuncture,”

    Oh look, another bit of my humanity just died.

  2. RDW
    May 21, 2013 at 4:10 PM

    There’s no literature on reflexology for rabbits, either. I guess if the situation arises, I’ll just have to wing it.

  3. May 21, 2013 at 5:03 PM

    “Wing it”? You must be doing acupuncture on a Bald Eagle then….. http://doubtfulnews.com/2012/09/acupuncture-administered-to-injured-bald-eagle-at-university-of-florida/

    Could not resist RDW…sorry.

  4. May 22, 2013 at 8:15 AM

    I was quite surprised to learn that “[t]he vascular net of the [seaturtle] flippers is organised similarly to that
    found in the limbs of humans”, although of course, that doesn’t exactly justify the acupuncture!

    Hochscheid, S. et al. (2002) Regional Blood Flow in Sea Turtles: Implications for Heat Exchange
    in an Aquatic Ectotherm. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 75 66–76.

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