Sunday, June 17, 2012

Loggerhead caught on Folly Pier admitted with shark bite wound

Yesterday morning, a recreational fisherman at the Folly Beach fishing pier caught something unexpected: a 60-pound juvenile loggerhead sea turtle. The fisherman netted the turtle in order to remove the boom from its mouth and, upon closer inspection, discovered the turtle had a large bite-shaped chunk missing from the back of its shell.

This bite-shaped wound was observed on the right side of Pier's shell. The right rear flipper is visible in the photo.
Although the fishing hook was safely removed, the conspicuous shell wound was actively bleeding. Thanks to efforts by Charleston County Parks & Recreation and Folly Beach Public Safety, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources sea turtle stranding hotline was contacted at 1-800-922-5431. Shannon Teders, Biologist for the South Carolina Aquarium and member of the Folly nesting and stranding network, responded to the stranding and transported the turtle to the Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital.

Inspection of the shell wound by our veterinarian, Dr. Shane Boylan, revealed that the injury had occurred at least one month prior to admission. Wild sea turtles can be surprisingly resilient and, despite the considerable carapace damage, this juvenile loggerhead we’ve named “Pier” is in relatively good health. Pier’s heart rate was strong at 36 beats per minute, his blood values were normal (PCV=36%, TS=3.2), and radiographs revealed no hooks or other radiodense foreign bodies present internally.

Dr. Shane Boylan took digital x-rays of Pier to rule out the presence of internal hooks, as well as to verify Pier's lungs were clear and his skeletal system was free of problems.
Pier's beak and visible mouth parts were inspected for damage. Loggerheads have a strong beak with immense bite force designed to eat hard-shelled prey.

SCA intern, Meredith Bleuer, and staff Biologist, Whitney Daniel, obtain Pier's carapace measurements. 
Pier’s prognosis is good, and we are hoping for a quick recovery. You may follow Pier's progress on our hospital page here. Come visit this feisty loggerhead in our hospital during one of our regularly scheduled tours and wish him well as he recovers!

Pier is lucky the damage wasn't more extensive. He swims well with all four flippers and is extremely active!
Christi Hughes
Sea Turtle Biologist