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