Friday, September 16, 2011

Gumby showing great improvement!

The 1-3 year old loggerhead that stranded on Kiawah in June has broken the heart of many visitors as she floated listlessly, unable to swim or dive. In addition to having anemia, radiographs revealed a severe case of metabolic bone disease. Little Gumby has been on a rigorous health plan that includes a proper diet, daily calcium injections, and an hour long daily dose of sunlight. The photo below shows an extremely lethargic Gumby as s/he receives an injection just after being admitted.

Sunlight is a significant source of vitamin D because the UV rays trigger vitamin D synthesis in the skin. Calcium can only work with the presence of vitamin D, so both are extremely important to bone health and development for all living creatures.

When we take sea turtles out for sun, it is important to maintain a constant water temperature. Hospital staff and interns in the photo below eat lunch outside on a 95 degree day while they consistently monitor Gumby's water temperature, adding chips of ice to cool down when necessary.

After three months of treatment, Gumby is behaving much more like a normal juvenile loggerhead - swimming around the tank, diving for food, sleeping on the bottom, and even biting at staff when we pull him for treatments and sun.

Follow-up radiographs reveal an increasing bone density. Take a close look at the comparison photo below, the flipper bones in particular.

Although Gumby has a long way to go before he will be able to be released into the wild, s/he is making great progress!

Kelly Thorvalson

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Jammin' for Jammer at the Windjammer

Join us at the Windjammer on the Isle of Palms this Tuesday, September 13 at 7pm to enjoy cuisine from eleven amazing restaurants and music from 3 live bands, all for only $15! There will also be a silent auction with many wonderful items including a surf board, art, and a family membership to the South Carolina Aquarium. The funds raised will support the Aquarium's Sea Turtle Rescue Program, helping to offset some of the costs of rehabilitating Jammer, the loggerhead that stranded near the Windjammer in April of 2011.

Jammer was on death's door when he arrived at the South Carolina Aquarium. To see photos of Jammer's rescue and admission, go to Visit the main hospital webpage at for additional photos, medical treatment and progress.

Huge thanks to the sponsors of the fundraiser and to all those contributing. Come on's going to be a JAM GOOD TIME!

Kelly Thorvalson

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Newest patient from the Edge of America

On Tuesday evening, an endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtle stranded on Folly Beach, the local barrier island commonly known as 'the Edge of America.' The small turtle was originally found by Lucinda Gilbert, a resident on the island. Nancy Smith, Bob Neville and Sharon Hally from the Folly Beach Turtle Watch responded to the stranding and contacted Charlotte Hope from the SCDNR, who then transported the turtle to the South Carolina Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital for medical care. It takes a whole slew of folks to save a sea turtle and we are grateful for each person along the way!

"Edge" is thin, lethargic, anemic, and unable to submerge in water. Because of the timing as well as the condition of the turtle, it is presumed that Edge was tossed around in the rough oceanic waters during Hurricane Irene and "his" health declined as a result. The lucky little turtle landed in just the right place for healing, rest and relaxation.

Current therapy includes antibiotics, vitamins and fluids. Although Edge isn't eating yet, we are hoping he will soon be enticed so he can start putting on a little weight. For our invertebrate folks out there, we found a few very interesting barnacles on this turtle's shell that can be seen in the photo below. There is very little information about barnacle species on the internet so we are looking to (and appreciating!) our local barnacle expert from the Citadel, Dr. John Zardus, for species identification. These critters may tell us a little more about where this turtle has been. Most of the barnacles will eventually die and be removed from the shell (and nose) but for the time being, they are not causing the turtle problems.

We would like to send a huge THANK YOU to all involved in rescuing sick and injured sea turtles from our waters and beaches. If you find a sea turtle in need of assistance, be sure to call the SCDNR stranded turtle hotline at 1-800-922-5431.

Kelly Thorvalson