Sunday, April 15, 2012

Debilitated loggerhead admitted into Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital

A severely debilitated loggerhead sea turtle was rescued on Saturday afternoon after being found floating in the Dewees Inlet. Rescuers Courtney, Jim, and their dog Moses, are no strangers to sea turtles, spending a great deal of time in coastal waters for work (Barrier Island Eco Tours) and play. While enjoying the beautiful spring day they encountered the sea turtle floating at the water's surface and it was obvious the animal was in distress. As they inched the boat closer to get a better look, the turtle was unable to dive.

Stranding team members from the Island Turtle Team and the SC Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) responded to the stranding call and transported the sea turtle to the Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital for medical treatment.

The emaciated turtle is covered in barnacles and other marine growth, a sign that the turtle was lethargic in the ocean. Also present is a necrotic lesion on the neck (close-up photo below). Once at the Aquarium, diagnostic tests revealed severe anemia (PVC 8%), hypoglycemia (no detectable blood glucose), and hypoproteinemia (very low blood protein level). In addition, the turtle had a very low heart rate of 12 beats per minute. 

Treatment included a cocktail of fluids (hetastarch, normasol, and 5% dextrose) administered subcutaneously, two antibiotics, vitamin injections, and wound treatment. The turtle was placed in a very shallow pool of fresh water overnight and although the turtle's prognosis is guarded, we were delighted to find her still alive this morning.

Huge thanks to Courtney, Jim and Moses for this timely rescue and to all of the first responders to sea turtle strandings along the SC coast managed by the SCDNR. Many thanks to our amazing sea turtle staff and volunteers whose help is essential in rehabilitating these critically ill sea turtles. Follow the turtle's progress on the main hospital webpage.

Kelly Thorvalson