Saturday, July 28, 2012

Loggerhead Admitted with Multiple Skull Fractures

On July 20, 2012, the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program received its fourth admittance of the month. This 53-pound loggerhead was found floating in Jones Creek in Georgetown County suffering from multiple boat propeller strikes. Although "George" has a dislocated bone in the front left flipper and lacerations to the neck and marginal scutes, the propeller did most damage to the skull. One strike cut off most of the nares (nostrils) and top portion of the beak. The propeller also struck the left side of the skull, fracturing both the maxilla (upper jaw) and mandible (lower jaw). Since loggerheads eat hard shelled prey in the wild, these jaw fractures are of great concern.

Profile view of the damage to George's face/skull.

View of the strike that caused multiple fractures to the upper and lower jaw.

Staff biologist Christi Hughes draws blood to be analyzed; those results are vital to proper treatment.

X-ray showing fractures to both the upper and lower jaws.

X-ray showing dislocated radile and laceration to the marginal scutes.

Despite the extensive injuries George has suffered, he continues to fight. This turtle is on two antibiotics, recieves fluids and vitamins regularly, and topical antibiotics are applied to external wounds as needed. The prognosis is still guarded but we are hopeful. Huge thanks to the folks from CMERA for their aid in the rescue and to Kelly Sloan from SCDNR for transporting the turtle. Look for updates on George's status and possible surgical procedures in the near future here on our hospital page.

Whitney Daniel
Sea Turtle Biologist

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Critically Ill Loggerhead, Atalaya, Hangs on to Life

The third sea turtle admitted into the Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital in July is Atalaya, a sub-adult loggerhead that stranded at Huntington Beach State Park. This poor turtle is extremely debilitated, suffering from severe emaciation, dehydration, and critically low blood levels including no blood glucose and a 5% hematocrit (% red blood cells...normal is 30-40%). We are tremendously grateful for the generous donation from Loggerhead Apparel of the funds to buy a new i-STAT blood machine. Getting a thorough blood analysis when the turtles first arrive is critical to successful treatment!

Triage took place in the  Aquarium's Animal Medical Facility and included fluid therapy (IV 50%dextrose and hetastarch, SQ 5% dextrose and sodium chloride), antibiotic injections (ceftazadime and danofloxacin), and vitamin injections (B-Complex, C and K). The turtle was then dry docked in the Sea Turtle Hospital with an overnight drip of Normosol fluids. Dry docking an animal in this condition is important because they could drown in water that covers their nares (nostrils).

Jeff McClary, head of SCUTE, helped to get the turtle from Huntington to Georgetown and SCDNR transported the rest of the way to find Sea Turtle Rescue staff awaiting their arrival.
The emaciated loggerhead hardly moved during the admission process. The heavy barnacle load is an indication that the turtle has been lethargic in the ocean. 
Marine leeches were removed from the corners of the mouth. Notice how sunken the eyes are...a sign of dehydration and lack of muscles and fat behind the eyes.

Dr. Boylan gives fluids IV in the dorsal sinus.
After 2.5 hours of treatment, the turtle was moved into the ICU tank in the Sea Turtle Hospital.
After 2 nights of dry dock, Atalaya is now swimming in shallow water. She isn't eating yet and we plan to tube feed a gruel with fish and vitamins to get some nutrition on board.   
Huge thanks to all involved in Atalaya's rescue! To David LaManna from NY who found the turtle and made the calls to get her rescued; Chris Bowers, beach ranger from Huntington for responding to the stranding; Jeff McClary, fearless leader of SCUTE for transporting Atalaya from Huntington to the Sewee Outpost in Awendaw and who is always willing to drive sick and injured sea turtles to get help; Bill Brabson for volunteering to ride with Jeff for assistance; and Amy Gutierrez from SCDNR for transporting the remainder of the trip. With patients in critical condition, it takes a great deal of support to get them here as soon as possible for treatment. Also, a huge thanks to our dedicated staff and volunteers that come in on a moment's notice on evenings, weekends and holidays to help save these turtles. Atalaya's prognosis is still guarded but we are thrilled that she is still with us today!

Kelly Thorvalson
Sea Turtle Rescue Program Manager

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Gumby's One Year Anniversary

If you have made a visit to the South Carolina Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital recently, you have met our spunky loggerhead Gumby! His feisty attitude and curious nature always make him a visitor favorite. If you are new to Gumby’s story, you can read about his admission and his December update here. It is truly remarkable to see how far Gumby has come just in one year!

Gumby was found stranded on the beach of Kiawah Island on June 26, 2011.
Over the past 12 months with the help of a healthy diet, vitamins and exposure to UV light, staff and volunteers have watched drastic changes in Gumby's size and demeanor. Upon admittance Gumby weighed only 6.5 pounds, had severe metabolic bone disease, and was extremely lethargic. He is now 6 times that original weight,  weighing in at 39 pounds and has also almost doubled in length. We also have seen a significant change with his demeanor, watching transform into the feisty sea turtle he is today.
Plastron comparison of Gumby over the year.
Profile comparison showing not only Gumby's changes physically but also the vibrant change in coloration.

A great shot to fully grasp how Gumby has grown in just one year!
Regardless of Gumby's troubled past, his natural instincts are still present. Gumby shows off his hunting abilities in the video below enjoy!

Come see Gumby's remarkable changes first hand on one of tours!

Whitney Daniel
Sea Turtle Biologist