Determination of death may be difficult. Pulses can rarely be palpated even in robust individuals and electrocardiography can be unreliable. Declaration of death should be left only to experienced individuals as a comatose or moribund turtle may often incorrectly be presumed dead by a layperson. The heart can continue to beat long after death, especially by euthanasia.
The following are some criteria which are used to establish death. A minimum of six are considered necessary to declare death:
No spontaneous movement
Lack of palpebral reflex
Lack of corneal reflex
Lack of gag reflex
Loss of cloacal tone
Ultrasonic confirmation of cardiac arrest
No pulse audible on Doppler flow meter
No pulse visible on EKG
This chapter should be cited: Mettee, Nancy. 2014. Death Criteria. Marine Turtle Trauma Response Procedures: A Veterinary Guide. WIDECAST Technical Report No. 17. Accessed online [date].