loggerhead (Caretta caretta)

Stranding Location: DeBordieu Beach, SC

Arrival Date: 06/20/2013

Age: juvenile

Weight: 32.0 kg (~71 lb.)

Case History

Nud was the second of three stranded loggerhead turtles to arrive on June 20th (the other two were Miss Royal and Pluff). Unfortunately, Nud was critically ill after stranding alive on DeBordieu Beach, suffering from debilitated turtle syndrome (DTS) and necrotic ulcerative disease (NUD). Just moving this sick turtle from the transport vehicle to our medical facility was challenging, as Nud had been starving for food for so long that his body had leeched a significant amount of calcium from the bones composing his shell, leaving the shell margins depressed and soft.

Treatment

Nud’s initial prognosis was very poor. Our vet, Dr. Shane Boylan, started this little loggerhead on fluids (both intravenously and subcutaneously), injectable vitamins, and antibiotics. Nud was so lethargic (his blood glucose was unreadable) that he didn’t resist treatments at all and simply rested quietly throughout the admission process. Areas of exposed bone (see nuchal bone on skull in photo) and skin ulcers (see photo) were treated with a topical antibiotic and antifungal cream. Nud was too weak to be placed in water and so was held on thick, damp foam padding in a container overnight.

Updates

7 July 2013: Nud is still with us! This turtle is a fighter and obviously has a strong will to live. S/he is currently being held in very shallow filtered water as s/he is too weak to swim through deep water to the surface to breathe. On a good note, Nud has an amazingly hearty appetite and is now eating 1% of his body weight in fish daily. Blood work has improved slightly (PCV 6%) and blood glucose is low but readable at 43 mg/dL. On an even better note, Nud passed his first real fecal today! The fecal contained pieces of shell from crabs that Nud ate well before being admitted to our hospital. This loggerhead still has quite a ways to go before we are confident he’ll survive, but we are so impressed with how well he’s done since admission.

24 July 2013: Nud’s health is improving slowly each and every day. His water level was raised this morning, as he is finally strong enough to surface easily to breathe. He is eating and defecating well, and is becoming much less tolerant of our treatments (which is a good sign). However, his right eye has developed an infection and is cloudy, and we are still very concerned about the amount of sloughing tissue and the exposed bone we are seeing. Nud is now getting daily laser treatments (thank you donors!) and oxygen has been added to his water, both of which should significantly aid skin regeneration. This will be an interesting case to observe over the next couple of months!

3 February 2014:  The lack of updates may have had you concerned but Nud has made amazing strides and is thriving in our hospital! Nud responded very well to laser and oxygen treatments. All of the skin lesions have healed nicely and there is no longer exposed bone along the base of the skull or flippers. The plastron and shell margins have also healed nicely; we were able to debride all remaining dead pieces of bone to facilitate the healing process. Nud continues to have a great appetite and is now back to a healthy weight. Since his admittance in late June, Nud developed a large abscess at the base of the skull on the right side. This can happen when turtles come in severely emaciated and the skull rubs against the carapace, which irritates the tissues. In mid-October, Dr. Boylan opened the abscess and debrided it, a procedure that went very well. The area is healing but is still pretty large. We are keeping a close eye on its progress and will keep you updated!

Release Date

April 2nd, 2014

Release Location

Gulf Stream waters off South Carolina