loggerhead (Caretta caretta)

Stranding Location: Isle of Palms, SC

Arrival Date: 04/25/2011

Age: juvenile

Weight: 42 kg (~94 lb)

Case History

Rescued on Isle of Palms by long-time turtle ladies Mary Pringle and Bev Ballow, this severely emaciated loggerhead was brought to the SCA’s Sea Turtle Hospital by SCDNR on the morning of 25 April 2011. Named “Jammer” after the Windjammer, an iconic venue on the Isle of Palms that has a long history of fundraising for various causes (including the IOP Turtle Team), this 35.94 kg (79 lb) loggerhead was covered in various species of barnacle, skeleton shrimp, algae, and other marine epibionts.

Treatment

Jammer arrived in extremely poor condition, suffering from emaciation, dehydration, and exhibiting a low heart rate of only 7 beats per minute (bpm). Initial treatment included hetastarch delivered intravenously to increase the volume of fluid in the cardiovascular system and a slow infusion of fluids containing vitamin B complex over the course of the first day to hydrate the animal. Jammer’s heart rate increased to 15 bpm by the following day which, although still low, was a significant improvement! Jammer also received ceftazidime, an antibiotic commonly used in sea turtles to treat infection. Surprisingly, Jammer’s blood values were not as low as we typically see in debilitated loggerheads.

Updates

4 May 2011: Jammer continues to fight to survive. S/he was placed in water a couple of days ago and typically floats at the surface. Jammer also displays some concerning neurological behaviors, swimming in tight circles when agitated. While s/he has begun eating a small amount of food daily, we found blood in her fecal yesterday and are concerned about potential bleeding in her bladder or lower GI.

23 May 2011: Jammer is one tenacious turtle. We have only seen anorexic, bile laden, gelatinous green feces despite two weeks of feeding a very small amount of fish daily. However, she is eager to eat, which is a good sign. Last week, we tube-fed her cod liver oil and gastroview to assess the health of her GI tract via radiographs. Today’s x-rays confirmed movement of the contrast medium through the stomach and into the intestines and, while things are moving much slower than normal, we are hopeful our various treatments (additional antibiotics, vitamin therapy, etc.) will improve her condition. On a good note, Jammer is not suffering from excess gas in the intestines, an impaction, osteomyelitis, or pneumonia.

29 May 2011: Jammer continues to have radiographs every 3-4 days. Movement of the contrast medium through the GI tract is still slow, but no blockages are apparent. Metronidazole therapy has ended, and we are administering both oral and injectable calcium to aid healing of the severe carapace lesions. His prognosis is 50/50.

20 June 2011: Jammer defecated for the first time on June 11th! He has begun passing normal, loose fecals regularly this past week, and we are so thrilled that this sweet turtle is still fighting so hard to survive. His diet is slowly being increased, and we are keeping our fingers crossed that he’ll pull through.

20 July 2011: This is one amazing turtle. He is eating 4% of her body weight in fish daily and is active and alert in her tank. We no longer see indicators of neurological issues, and are beginning to feel confident that Jammer will recover. However, we are still concerned that bone may not regenerate under the severe carapace lesions. Time will tell.

14 September 2011: Yesterday’s fundraising event, “Jammin’ for Jammer at the Windjammer,” was a huge success! A great crowd came out to enjoy amazing food and entertainment provided by three bands while supporting Jammer and our Sea Turtle Hospital. Jammer has put on a decent amount of weight in recent weeks and we’ve been able to debride most of the dead bone from his carapace. Thankfully, the areas underneath the dead bone are healthy and already re-keratinizing. Jammer’s prognosis is good!

12 December 2011: Jammer is thriving in our hospital. He is now at a healthy weight and his carapace has healed better than we expected it to. Jammer is on course for a spring release, so stay tuned!

Release Date

05/18/2012

Release Location

Isle of Palms County Park, SC