Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A new Kemp's ridley patient - St. Catherine

A 26-pound Kemp's ridley sea turtle was transported to the Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital by the SC Department of Natural Resources at 7am on Saturday morning. The turtle was captured on Friday by a DNR research vessel sampling near St. Catherine's Island, GA. A southern stingray barb punctured the skin and was broken and deeply embedded in the neck/shoulder region.

Above: The turtle presented with a puncture wound between the neck and shoulder.

Above: Sea Turtle Biologist, Christi Hughes, and intern, Megan Walsh, weighed and measured the turtle upon arrival.

Above: The neck and shoulder were very swollen due to the venomous nature of the stingray barb.

Above: Radiographs were taken to determine the exact location of the barb.
Above: With the turtle anesthetized, Dr. Shane Boylan assisted by several members of the Sea Turtle Rescue Team, surgically removed the barb.
Above: Once the barb was removed, the wound was stitched and the turtle was recovered from anesthesia.

St. Catherine recieved an injection of dexamethasone, a steroid primarily used as an anti-inflammatory, as well as fluid therapy on Saturday and Sunday. "She" is also on 2 antibiotics and pain medication. Because of her lethargic state after surgery, she was left in dry dock (out of water) until Monday morning. Hospital staff were pleased when the tank was filled with water and St. Catherine swam very well, without favoring the right flipper at all.

Thanks to the SCDNR SEAMAP crew for taking great care of the turtle until they could reach Charleston, to SCDNR Marine Turtle Conservation Program crew for responding and coordinating the rescue, and to our Sea Turtle Rescue Team that spends countless hours, day and night, holidays and weekends, providing top quality medical care to these animals. Go team!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Dawsey's flipper much improved

Dawsey is feeling better and making quite a splash with those that meet her! This is quite a change from the lethargic state in which she was found on September 6th. At the time, the infected flipper wounds were decaying, there was exposed bone and she was likely suffering from septecemia. Once admitted into the Sea Turtle Hopspital, Dawsey was often placed on the gurney (pictured below) or on a large tire for treatment so we could effectively treat wound on the ventral side of the flipper.

In the 45 days that she been recieving medical treatment, the wounds are healing beautifully. Below are dated photographs that allow you to see the changes in this dorsal flipper wound.
Below is a photo of the ventral wound, just to give you an idea of what we are dealing with. There is a deep pocket under the skin that is not visible here.

We are thrilled with the speed at which Dawsey is healing. She is off all medications and is recieving a healthy diet to include live blue crabs. She still has very limited use of the injured flipper so physical therapy has been initiated. Range of motion in the flipper has increased as a result of this therapy and it will continue until we see normal flipper movement.

We'll keep you posted on her progress!