Wednesday, June 17, 2009

New patients admitted and Little Debbie update

On Thursday, June 11th, a 12-pound green sea turtle was admitted into the Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital. Green sea turtles are listed as endangered on the Endangered Species Act and are more rarely seen in SC than the loggerhead or even the Kemp’s ridley which is considered to be one of the most rare sea turtles in the world. The animal was found floating just off of Mingo Point on Kiawah Island and rescued by Kiawah Nature Center staff. The lethargic turtle was moderately emaciated and very dehydrated. Radiographs taken the next day found intestinal air to be the cause of the floating. Extremely dilated intestinal loops give the impression that impaction is the likely culprit. In addition to a full blood analysis, “Mingo” was immediately put on antibiotics as well as given fluids to correct the dehydration. Hospital staff will initially try non-surgical methods to help the animal pass the foreign body(ies) which are likely plastic and basic supportive care will continue.

SCDNR brought in a small Kemp's ridley sea turtle approximately 1am Sunday morning that had ingested a fish hook. Radiographs confirmed not one hook but two hooks in the esophagus! One hook was likely a previous incident which went unreported. Endoscopic surgery was performed to remove the hook. Sadly, the second hook (and likely older incident) was nowhere to be visualized in the esophagus. This hook injury likely occurred in the past where the hook had time to penetrate and become encapsulated in the esophagus and surrounding subcutaneous tissue. Invasive surgery will be required if we decide the hook presents a risk. The turtle will be evaluated in rehabilitation and the hook may not need to be removed. If anyone knows of a turtle being caught or catches a sea turtles on hook and line, get help if you are unable to remove the hook successfully and don’t cut the leader short!

"Little Debbie"

Little Debbie, the Kemp's ridley with a broken humerus and severe pneumonia, has made some improvement but the prognosis is still guarded. She is active at times and although this is good news, we need her to stay quiet to keep the broken flipper in place. Also, on Tuesday she took some food from our Turtle Whisperer Volunteer, Patricia, and the blood glucose has greatly improved. We would like to see lung radiographs clear up but in the meantime, we will continue to treat with anitbiotic injections, antifungal injections, antibiotic nebulizers and basic supportive care. We really hope see this animal get better. She is a fighter!

Thank you to all involved in the rescue and rehabilitation of these animals. It takes us all to help these amazing creatures to survive! You can continue to follow medical updates on these and all the patients in our hospital on the main Sea Turtle Hospital page.

Kelly and Shane