Thursday, September 30, 2010

160-pound sea turtle rescued by local fisherman

September 22nd started as just another day at work for charter fisherman, Chad Ferris. While fishing in the Santee Pass behind Caper's Island, Chad pointed out a loggerhead sea turtle at the surface of the water to his customer from Atlanta. Sea turtles surfacing to breath or bask are a familiar sight for anyone who spends lots of time on the water in the Lowcountry. That's why after watching the large loggerhead trying to dive for 30 minutes with no success, Chad knew she needed help. The two men mustered the strength and agility to lift the 160-pound turtle from the water into the boat (without falling in!) and headed for the Isle of Palms Marina to meet the SC Department of Natural Resources staff and volunteers.

Once the turtle was admitted into the Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital, she was given supportive care to include fluid therapy, antibiotic and vitamin injections and diagnostics tests such as a blood analysis, ultrasound and radiographs (x-rays). Thousands of hatching marine leech eggs and some adult leeches were removed from the turtle's skin.

Radiographs revealed an intestinal impaction (pictured below) and gas trapped on the right side of the intestinal tract, which is causing Santee to float at a severe angle. She is being held in very shallow water to keep her floating on a level plane and is receiving regular tubing of mineral oil and lactulose for aid in moving the impaction.

Keep track of Santee's progress on the main hospital webpage and be sure to schedule a visit with her and all the other patients at the South Carolina Aquarium!

Huge thanks to Chad Ferris for recognizing this turtle needed help and responding. It is so important to recognize the part that our community plays in rescuing these threatened and endangered species. You are our eyes out there!

As always, we thank the SC Department of Natural Resources staff and volunteers for respondering to strandings and to the South Carolina Aquarium volunteers and that make this all possible.