Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Endangered sea turtle rescued by 9-year old in Pawley's Island

A call came in to the head of the SCUTE turtle team, Jeff McClary, on Sunday morning. A very small, live sea turtle was found washed up on Pawley’s Island but someone put it back into the water thinking that was the right thing to do. Knowing that if the turtle stranded on the beach it was sick or injured and once back in the water it may never be seen again, Jeff put out an all points bulletin to the SCUTE coordinators. The Schneider’s {Pawley’s and S. Litchfield} and Betsy Brabson {DeBordieu} sent out an email to the other Turtle Enthusiasts. In the late afternoon, the Graysons spotted something bobbing in the surf and Wilson Grayson, 9 years old, waded into the water to check it out. What he found was a very sick juvenile green sea turtle in need of medical attention. Jeff was notified, collected the turtle and headed South as Kelly Sloan of the SC Department of Natural Resources headed North to make the transfer in McClellanville. It was only a matter of time that the little green named Pawley after it’s stranding location, was admitted into the South Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital.

Here is Dr. Boylan’s description of the turtle on the night of its arrival:
The animal is mildly anemic, moderately hypoglycemic, severely hypoproteinemic, and severely bradycardic (very low heart rate). We tapped about 180 cc of gas from the coelom (body cavity). Radiographs were clear of any fishing hooks or detectable foreign bodies. The animal reacted with pain responses to injections which correlates with a presumptive diagnosis of gas productive coelomic sepsis. An old puncture wound was found at the marginal scutes. The nearby inframarginal scutes showed some signs of internal pathology by palpation and examination. This is the likely source of the infection (puncture wound). Antibiotics, vitamins, x-rays, fluids with dextrose, ultrasounds, and in house bloodwork were conducted tonight. The prognosis is guarded given sepsis is very likely and acute in onset. The body condition and hydration status were relatively normal.

With each passing day, the chances of survival for little Pawley are better. It is now 4 days into treatment and Pawley is active and even ate a little fish on Wednesday and Thursday. In addition to continuing supportive care including fluids, vitamins and antibiotics, hospital staff is regularly bleeding coelomic air that is being produced by the internal bacterial infection. Be sure to check back to the hospital page to get regular updates on Pawley as well as the other patients in our care!

Thank you to everyone involved with this animal’s rescue, especially to Wilson Grayson and his family. Green sea turtles are listed as federally endangered under the Endangered Species Act and need our help. And remember, if you find a sick or injured sea turtle, contact the local police department or call the SC Department of Natural Resources hotline at 1-800-922-5431.