Saturday, March 30, 2013

Earth Fare Donates Organic Produce for the Third Year!

For the third year in a row, Earth Fare has stepped up in a time of need by donating organic vegetables to the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program! It has been a very busy winter for the Sea Turtle Hospital treating a record 25 patients, six being green sea turtles. Hospital staff strives to provide our patients with a diet that is as close as possible to their natural diets in the wild. Young green sea turtles are omnivores and a large part of their diet consists of plant matter such as algae and sea grass. With help from Earth Fare's weekly donations, we are able to offer a wide variety of healthy organic vegetables such as romaine, green and red leaf lettuces, red and green cabbage, and bell peppers to our green sea turtles.

Earth Fare storefront, located in the South Windmere Shopping Center.
Earth Fare is known for their great selection of organic and local produce. 
Small shot of the huge selection Earth Fare offers.
Great information for buying organic.
Earth Fare's Food Philosophy
Produce Manager Matt Setter, handing over a full box of healthy vegetables.
Ollie is very excited to see all the greens!
Ollie enjoying some organic green leaf lettuce from a PVC feeder which allows the sea turtles to feed naturally off the bottom of the tank.
One behalf of the South Carolina Aquarium and our endangered green sea turtles, we would like to thank Earth Fare for their continued support of the Sea Turtle Rescue Program. Please check out Earth Fare either online or at their amazing store in the South Windmere Shopping Center!
Whitney Daniel
Sea Turtle Biologist

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Meet Peachy and Keen!

Many Sea Turtle Hospital visitors know that there are several non-sea turtle patients here in the hospital. On January 7, 2013 we took in two eastern mud turtles (Kinosternon subrubrum), a species native to South Carolina. “Peachy” is an adult female who was found emaciated in the wild. “Keen” is an adult male who was run over by a lawn mower.

Peachy and Keen arrived together and seem to enjoy each other's company.
For some background information, eastern mud turtles live in freshwater environments. They can be found in many areas of the United States from New York south to Florida and west along the Gulf Coast, as well as northward through the Mississippi River Valley. Mud turtles are omnivores, and they feed mostly in aquatic environments on organisms such as insects, mollusks, amphibians, as well as on aquatic vegetation.

Peachy is very feisty and has recovered quickly. Upon arrival, she weighed 110 grams and now weighs 138 grams! The weight range for an adult mud turtle is 88-263 grams and her current weight is appropriate for her size. Our veterinarian removed a small, round abscess from her left front leg last week and Peachy is healing well from her minor surgical procedure.
Peachy loves to eat the healthy fish and veggies we provide her with, and often snaps her beak in anticipation when she sees her breakfast approaching!
This picture gives a good view of the circular abcess that developed on Peachy's left front leg.
Keen’s recovery has been much slower than Peachy’s. He was put on antibiotics and also fluids for dehydration. Upon arrival, he weighed 97.5 g and now weighs 114 g. However, he is still very thin and prone to dehydration, as he spends all of his time basking under a UV lamp and is not drinking enough water. He has been a very stubborn eater but eats well with our help from tongs.

The white calcium-based paste on Keen's shell has helped to hold the fractured segments together, and will wear off over time.

The tip of Keen's beak was also damaged, but he is still able to eat well.
 Keen still has a long road of recovery ahead of him, but his will to live is strong and he has made progress. Come by and see Peachy and Keen on your next visit to the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Hospital!
Joni Vaughn
Sea Turtle Rescue Program Intern

Monday, March 11, 2013

Update on our Cold-Stunned Kemp's Ridleys

Our Sea Turtle Hospital is still caring for twelve endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtles that were flown to South Carolina to complete their rehabilitation after stranding in Massachussets this winter. (Blogs detailing the arrival of these turtles can be found here and here.) These ridleys received excellent inital treatment from the New England Aquarium Marine Animal Rescue Program and, as such, arrived at our hospital in stable condition with no major issues.


This 9-pound Kemp's ridley has struggled to recover from cold-stunning in Massachussets last November. X-rays performed in January revealed lung fields that looked somewhat compromised (the normally black lung fields were "cloudy" and hard to see), so a second antibiotic was administered to prevent severe pneumonia. Iron injections were also necessary to combat anemia (PCV=18).

While you probably won't see the issue is this radiograph with Davis' lungs, you can see evidence of the bone deformation present on Davis' shell.
Compare this photo with the one above to see how Davis' shell deformity looks both on the x-ray and in real life. This ridley is very easy to distinguish from the others!

On a good note, Davis is currently off medications and seems to be recovering well. Check out his hospital page here.

Davis on March 7th, 2013.


This feisty sea turtle stranded in Sandwich, Massachussets, and weighed less than four pounds upon arrival to our facility. Regular physical examinations, which include obtaining weights and measurements, are important to assess the health of these animals, to adjust their diets based on body condition, and are also a great tool for catching potential health issues early.

Cape Cod receives a physical examination.

In the upper right corner of this x-ray, you can see the "finger bones," or phalanges, in Cape Cod's right front flipper. The joint circled in red is beginning to deteriorate and will need to be closely monitored.
Kemp's ridleys are prone to bone issues like we are seeing in Cape Cod. S/he will remain in our care until the bone lysis stabilizes.


This endearingly small ridley quickly became a staff favorite. Although thin and weighing only 2.9 pounds at admission, Saint needed only a quality diet and antibiotics to improve his health.

Saint's plastron was bruised and abraded upon arrival in December 2012.

Our veterinarian, Dr. Shane Boylan, is currently reviewing this turtle's blood work and radiographs to see if Saint can be medically cleared and released back into the ocean in the near future.

Saint is an active swimmer and seems to appreciate his first class accommodations (i.e. tank space with a viewing window).

Bring your family to visit all 23 sea turtles currently recuperating in our Sea Turtle Hospital and wish them well before they return to the Atlantic Ocean later this year. Spring break is the perfect time to see these amazing creatures on one of our behind-the-scenes tours, an exciting and educational experience for all. Our ridleys look forward to meeting you!

Christi Hughes
Sea Turtle Biologist