Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Newest sea turtle patients, "18th Green" and "Gala"

Let me introduce two new patients that have been keeping us very busy in the Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital.

"18th Green," pictured just below, is a juvenile green sea turtle that washed up on the beach April 26th in front of the Ocean Course 18th green on Kiawah Island. "18th Green" weighs 8 1/2 kg (almost 20 pounds) and was covered with algae, barnacles and skeleton shrimp upon arrival. Although "18th Green" was alert and fairly active, s/he was very dehydrated. After giving initial treatments, the turtle was placed in a shallow tank of fresh water to help with hydration and kill the external marine growth. "18th Green" is floating with a buoyant posterior (rear) end and is suffering from intestinal impaction.

"Gala," pictured below, is the newest loggerhead patient from Surfside Beach, SC that had a very timely arrival. The South Carolina Aquarium's Environmental Stewardship Awards Gala, a wonderful black tie event, was held Saturday night and awards were given to individuals that are making significant contributions to environmental preservation. Well, wouldn't you know it - a sea turtle stranding arrived about 7am, just as the reception was getting under way. Duty calls, so I skipped the reception and part of dinner to help admit the incredibly ill loggerhead.

In addition to leeches around the mouth and nares (can see in close profile photo), this emaciated, severely anemic loggerhead is covered in barnacles and algae indicating that the turtle has been lethargic in the ocean for quite some time.

Both "18th Green" and "Gala" are still not 'out of the woods' and we are giving medical treatments every morning and afternoon to give them the best chance of survival. You can find out about more about their specific illnesses, treatments and progress, as well as see additional photographs on the main hospital page.

A huge thank you goes out to all the folks that helped to rescue these animals on the beach, Jeff McClary for driving "Gala" part of the way to Charleston, Charlotte Hope and Kelly Sloan from SCDNR who transported the turtles to the hospital and to all of the hospital staff, volunteers and interns that work together to make the magic happen here. It takes an army!

Kelly T

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

"Pirate" makes great progress feeding on his own

Two months ago, "Pirate" was just beginning to open his mouth a few centimeters and starting to feed on his own after being tube fed for 7 months. In fact, the video blog post on March 15th shows "Pirate" taking 2 minutes to eat just 1 small piece of fish. In the newest video below, "Pirate" is able to consume almost a pound of cut fish in 2 minutes!

Once "Pirate" started showing good progress with eating fish, we decided to try live blue crabs, a natural prey item for loggerheads in the wild and an important form of enrichment for the patients in our hospital. In the next video, you can see that "Pirate" wastes no time going after the crab but it takes several attempts to actually get the whole crab into his mouth. Regardless, the end result is that the crab gets consumed.

Range of motion in "Pirate's" jaw is still only a fraction of what it should be but we are on the road to recovery!

Kelly T