Friday, May 3, 2013

First Live SC Strandings of 2013 Admitted to the South Carolina Aquarium

Admitted on Monday, April 22, this little green sea turtle was covered in barnacles, algae and a thick layer of sand from getting pounded in the surf. The beach workers/rakers on Myrtle Beach that found the endangered turtle were very concerned and went to great lengths to shield "Raker" from the cold winds while they waited for help to arrive. Linda Mataya from the North Myrtle Beach turtle team transported the sick turtle to McClellanville where she was met by SCDNR's Lisa Scarano, who drove him/her the rest of the way to the Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital.

The 3.4 kg juvenile green sea turtle hardly moved during admission.
Raker's internal body temperature at the time of admission was 58.1 degrees F which doesn't bode well for a cold-blooded reptile. Due to the animal's poor health, the heart rate was only about 12 beats per minute. In addition to the heavy bioload on the carapace, the turtle sustained severe corneal abrasions on the left eye and it was evident that a secondary infection was present on his/her carapace (shell) between the keratin and bone.

Profile of Raker: you can see soft tissue lesions, the injured eye and algae growth.
I weighed and measured the turtle while Lisa recorded the data.
After measurements and preliminary blood work were taken, Birds and Exotics Vet Dr. Jose Biascoechea guided treatment for the new patient. Raker's core body temperature was consistently monitored and raised at a slow pace of 0.5-1 degree per hour.

Dr. Biascoechea administering subcutaneous fluids.
Dr. Biascoechea and I go over the treatment plan for Raker. Good luck little one!
Raker was really touch and go for three days. The heart rate fluctuated greatly and s/he wasn't taking breaths as often as s/he should, so the blood CO2 levels increased. Oxygen was added to the long list of supportive care and the turtle finally started to show some improvement on Thursday (3 days after admission). For more details and updates on Raker's status, go his/her hospital page.

Captain Gresh Megget of Absolute Reel Screamer Charters came across a juvenile green sea turtle in Folly River by Crosby's Seafood on Saturday, April 28. Captain Gresh describes the turtle as covered in barnacles and algae, floating, and swimming in circles. The captain and guests recognized that the turtle was in distress and brought the animal to the Folly Beach boat landing where SCDNR's Jenna Cormany met them for the transfer.

Crosby's rescuer, Captain Gresh at the dock after the rescue.
In addition to being very lethargic with poor blood work and dehydration, the 4kg juvenile green has several external wounds on the carapace and plastron.

The turtle arrived at the South Carolina Aquarium just as the 6th Annual Environmental Stewardship Gala was about to begin. Reminiscent of the Gala 3 years ago, I was able to help admit the turtle just before heading out to enjoy the amazing event on the Aquarium's front lawn.
LEFT: Loggerhead admission on evening of 2010 Environmental Stewardship Awards Gala; RIGHT: Green admission on evening of 2013 Environmental Stewardship Awards Gala.
SCDNR stranding volunteer/Sea Turtle Hospital volunteer Barb Gobien, applies triple antibiotic ointment to the plastron wounds.

Whitney and Barb take Crosby's heart rate.
Dr. Shane Boylan does a full physical examination, including inspecting the mouth. Supportive care included fluids, antibiotics, vitamins and wound care.
Crosby is in fair condition after several days of treatment. Be sure to check out the medical page to keep up with his/her progress!
Huge thanks to the rescuers and all involved in the transporting and care of these sick sea turtles. Each step is critical in their survival. As the weather warms and sea turtles move into our coastal waters, it is important to be on the lookout for sea turtles in distress. To notify someone of a sick, injured or dead sea turtle, call the SCDNR stranded sea turtle hotline at 1-800-922-5431. And while you are out on the beaches this summer, be sure to pick up any litter you find and keep the beach as safe as possible for our nesting females and hatchlings!
Best wishes,
Kelly Thorvalson
Sea Turtle Rescue Program Manager