Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)

Stranding Location: Bird Key, SC

Arrival Date: 09/24/2012

Age: juvenile

Weight: 4.43 kg (~10 lb)

Case History

Thanks to a concerned fisherman with a dip net, this little Kemp’s ridley was rescued from the waters off Bird Key and quickly transported to our hospital by the SCDNR. When “Birdie” arrived at the Aquarium, s/he had deep lacerations on her neck and left front and rear flippers from becoming entangled in monofilament line. Luckily, the entanglement was fairly recent and did not prevent her from surfacing to breathe. As you can see from her pictures, Birdie was energetic and tried to bite staff multiple times during her initial treatment. We love feisty turtles!

Treatment

Upon arrival, the offending line was carefully removed and the ligature wounds were flushed and treated with betadine. Our Doppler confirmed that Birdie’s heart rate was strong (40 bpm), and radiographs showed s/he had eaten recently. Unfortunately, x-rays also showed severe osteomyelitis (degeneration of the bone) of the left rear fibula, one of the bones below the knee that was constricted by the fishing line. This bone infection will likely take a long time to heal, so Birdie may be with us through the winter. However, s/he has begun eating, she uses the left rear flipper while swimming, and her prognosis is good.

Updates

22 October 2012: Birdie has amazed us all with the speed of healing we are seeing in her left rear flipper! She has had nearly full use of the injured rear flipper throughout her stay with us, which is exciting considering the osteomyelitis and the depth of the laceration all the way down to the bone. Weekly photo comparisons clearly show the reduction in swelling over time, and the damaged tissues on her neck and front and rear flippers are healing beautifully. We will continue to monitor and treat the osteomyelitis in the left rear fibula; updates to follow!

25 February 2013: Birdie’s wounds look great, but she’s developed a lesion on the left rear flipper due to a section of bone damaged by the entanglement migrating. This ridley will be with us for several months until this issue is resolved.

Release Date

05/23/2013

Release Location

Isle of Palms County Park, SC