loggerhead (Caretta caretta)

Stranding Location: Dewees Inlet

Arrival Date: 04/14/2012

Age: juvenile

Weight: 39.14 kg (86 lb)

Case History

Thank you to Courtney Heuring of Barrier Island Eco Tours (and her dog Moses!) for her instrumental role in the rescue of this juvenile loggerhead. Found in Dewees Inlet, this 33.9 kg (75 lb) loggerhead is the second live sea turtle to be admitted into our Sea Turtle Hospital this year. Dewees was observed floating and unable to dive, a serious problem for a reptile that is supposed to feed on bottom-dwelling crustaceans and mollusks. SCDNR and our staff and veterinarian coordinated his Saturday night rescue and treatment.

Treatment

Upon admittance, Dewees was emaciated, dehydrated, and very lethargic. He had a severe neck lesion (see picture) and a heavy epibiont load which included barnacles, skeleton shrimp, and even a little crab living in a pocket created by the barnacles on his shell. Blood work revealed severe anemia (PCV=8%) and no detectable glucose, so IV hetastarch and fluids were administered along with injectable vitamins. Suffering from debilitated turtle syndrome (DTS), Dewees’ prognosis is guarded.

Updates

18 April 2012: Dewees has surprised us all with his positive attitude! After being dry-docked for several days to receive fluids, he is swimming and breathing easily in a filtered tank. Almost all of our DTS turtles show no interest in food for weeks after admittance but, when we offered Dewees a small amount of mackerel yesterday, he eagerly consumed it and wanted more. Although this turtle isn’t out of the woods yet, he’s already demonstrated a feisty attitude and a strong will to live.

6 May 2012: Dewees continues to improve. Last week’s fecal analysis revealed his body is hosting a number of parasites, so we’ll begin deworming treatment when he is a bit stronger.

7 June 2012: Dewees is such a great turtle to work with, and a fun turtle to watch through his tank window. He is enamored with his backscratcher and thinks it’s better utilized as a jungle gym and belly-scratcher; he climbs over it, getting most of his body out of the water, multiple times every day!

18 June 2012: Dewees is still anemic and currently receiving iron injections, but you’d never know it from his behavior. Check out the comparison picture to see how much this turtle has improved over the last couple months!

1 July 2012: Dewees hematocrit has finally improved to low normal (28%)! This turtle justs needs a bit more time to regain his health, and hopefully will return to the wild later this year.

3 September 2012: Dewees is being tagged tomorrow in preparation for release. Keep checking our website for a release date!

Release Date

09/19/2012

Release Location

Beachwalker County Park, Kiawah, SC