Thursday, May 30, 2013

New Stranding Moves from Intensive Care Ward

The severely debilitated loggerhead admitted to the South Carolina Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital on May 20th was barely alive when it first arrived. The young adult sea turtle affectionately named "Briar" after the stranding location in Myrtle Beach, received intensive care for 5 days. This consistent, supportive care in a quiet out-of-the-way tank helped this turtle make it through the roughest part of rehab.

Shane and I prepared to transfer the turtle from the SCDNR truck.
Briar was so lethargic that she could not hold her head up during the transfer. Jenna Cormany of SCDNR helped to stabilize her head.
Dr. Boylan and crew moved Briar by elevator to the Animal Medical Facility on the Aquarium's first floor.
Emaciation and a heavy barnacle load are typical external signs of a severely debilitated sea turtle. The internal medical problems are much more numerous. 
In addition to being extremely sick, Briar has what looks like an old break in the front right flipper causing it to "hook".

Weights and measurements were taken and neck was "sterilized" with betadine to pull blood.

Once in the Animal Medical Facility, Briar received a basic health assessment which would guide Dr. Boylan's treatment plan. This assessment included obtaining a heart rate, evaluating blood work, a physical examination and getting weights and measurements. The heart rate was extremely low at 6 beats per minute and blood work was also extremely poor with a glucose of 1, hematocrit level of 7%, and total solids 2.9. These numbers validate what we thought when we first saw the turtle - the animal was barely alive.

The heart rate is obtained by dopplar, pressing the probe to the soft tissue between the head and neck.

Fluid therapy is an important part of supportive care given to the patients in our Sea Turtle Hospital. Briar received Hetastartch IV as well as 5% Dextrose and Normosol subcutaneously (photos above).

The video below was taken just after Briar was put in a tank of shallow water. 

Huge thanks to turtle rescuer, Brett and North Myrtle Beach turtle lady extraordinaire, Linda Mataya who drove the turtle to Georgetown, and to SCDNR for coordinating and finishing the transport. Also to our extraordinary staff, volunteers and interns that make up the Sea Turtle Rescue Team at the Aquarium. This turtle now has a good prognosis because of your efforts!

Kelly Thorvalson
Sea Turtle Rescue Program Manager