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