Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Jammer is one tough turtle

Jammer, the severely debilitated loggerhead sea turtle from the Isle of Palms, SC, has surprised Sea Turtle Rescue Program staff and volunteers. This animal is one of the most emaciated sea turtles in the history of the program and is still with us a month after being admitted. "Her" carapace is soft around the margins with ribs showing. We have seen soft shells but never distinctive ribs. But even after a month, this turtle isn't out of the woods yet. One of our greatest medical concerns is that the gastrointestinal tract isn't functioning properly. Basically, we just want to see the animal poop.

The good news is that she is starting to behave like a sea turtle that is feeling better and it gives us even more hope that she will survive. The tight circling that she has exhibited for the last 4 weeks is slowing, she is starting so use her pipe to sleep in like all the other patients, and last night when we were admitting 3 new patients, she was actually watching us out of the window in her tank. This behavior is a wonderful change from the turtle that could barely lift her head out of water to take a breath. Below are some photos of her progress.

First, a quick reminder of what Jammer looked like when she arrived:

Below is Jammer 2 weeks after arrival being taken for x-rays:

Jammer swimming in her tank:

And for all of you that have seen the turtles using their pipes for sleeping, this is sure to make you feel good!

Jammer's prognosis is still guarded but there is certainly improvement since she arrived. We are posting periodic updates on her medical case log (on the main hospital webpage) so be sure to check back!

We have been incredibly busy admitting 5 sea turtles in the last 6 days and have fallen behind getting them on the blog. Stay tuned for a post to introduce you to all the newest patients!


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Loggerhead admitted Friday evening

The loggerhead captured in waters off of Fort Johnson in James Island, SC, eluded it's rescuers for over 24 hours. It was first seen on Thursday, May 12 with a fishing line and bobber entangled around it's flipper and finally captured late Friday afternoon. The rescue, a team effort by staff from SC Department of Natural Resources and College of Charleston Grice Marine Laboratory, came after many in-water rescue attempts.

Once captured, the sea turtle was transported to the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program for medical treatment. Suffering from SCUD (septicemic cutaneous ulcerative disease), the turtle presented with many necrotic skin ulcers. There were also hundreds (perhaps thousands) of marine leeches and leech eggs on the soft tissue, as seen in the photos below. Fortunately, "Grice" was quite active upon arrival and staff is hopeful that this turtle was rescued in time.

Huge thanks to all the folks out at Fort Johnson involved in the rescue of this animal! Also, many thanks to Christi Hughes, Ann Estes, intern Meghan Walsh, and Dr. Jose Biascoechea of Birds and Exotics Veterinary Clinic for the Friday night turtle ER! You guys are amazing!
Kelly Thorvalson

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Seven sea turtles being released this Saturday!

Seven sea turtles will be released this Saturday, May 7th at the Isle of Palms County Park at 5pm. County Park parking fees will apply and parking is limited. We highly encourage you to carpool, even if from somewhere on the island or in Mt. Pleasant, and to come out extra early to avoid traffic.
Meet the sea turtles being released (captions follow each comparison photo):


The little green sea turtle, Ripley, was the victim of a boat strike. After months of wound treatment and antibiotics, Ripley has recovered and is ready to rejoin the sea turtle population!

St. Catherine

St. Catherine was caught on a SCDNR research vessel and had an unfortunate run-in with a stingray. The stingray barb broke off in the tissue between the shoulder and neck and had to be surgically removed. St. Catherine is all better and ready to go to her ocean home!


Hyde is a juvenile Kemp's ridley sea turtle that was part of cold stunning event off the NC coast in December. Over 100 sea turtles stranded as part of this event. Hyde really likes to sleep with his head in the PVC tube!


Guardian is also a Kemp's ridley from the 2010 NC cold stunning event and can often be seen spashing around in her tank, quite different than the lethargic turtle she was at admission.


Hilton, a loggerhead sea turtle, washed up last summer on Hilton Head debilitated and covered in barnacles. Hilton has made a great recovery and is one spunky turtle!

Palmer, the loggerhead from the Isle of Palms, is one of the most serverely emaciated and anemic sea turtles we have ever treated. 25 pounds heavier and robust, this turtle is ready for the wild!


Pirate stranded on Myrtle Beach in front of Pirate Land Campground and was found to be suffering from lockjaw. After 8 months of tube feeding and doing physical therapy on the jaws, he could open his mouth just enough to fit in small peices of fish. Over the next year, he made great progress and is now able to feed on large, live blue crabs. After almost 2 years in our care, this animal is finally ready for release!
We are so excited to be sending these animals home after their remarkable recoveries. Thanks to the SC Department of Natural Resources and all involved in the rescue, rehabilitation and release of these animals!

Monday, May 2, 2011

New stranding admitted to Sea Turtle Hospital

The Sea Turtle Rescue Program is off to a very busy 2011 stranding season! On Thursday, April 28, a juvenile green sea turtle weighing a little over 8 pounds was found stranded on Kiawah Island, SC. This is the third sea turtle to be admitted to the Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital in just three weeks bringing the total patient load to 22 - a new record.

The turtle is named Eugenia after one of the oldest roads on Kiawah, Eugenia Avenue, which also runs parallel to the area on the beach where the turtle stranded. The road was named after Eugenia Royal, the wife of CC Royal who bought the island from the Vanderhorst Family in 1950 for logging purposes. A portion of the road is still unpaved and boasts many of the original homes on the island.

After being weighed, measured, and scanned for tags, Eugenia was treated with fluids and antibiotics. She was put in a shallow tank for two days and has just been given a deeper tank in which to swim. Prognosis for this animal is good. Check the Sea Turtle Hospital webpage for updates on Eugenia's progress.

Thanks to everyone involved in this rescue!!

Kelly Thorvalson