Loggerhead (Caretta caretta)

Stranding Location: North Myrtle Beach, SC

Arrival Date: 09/03/2008

Age: juvenile

Weight: 45 kg (~ 99 lbs)

Case History

This young loggerhead was found in the surf on North Myrtle Beach with seven severe carapace fractures. The fractures, estimated to be several weeks old, extend over the entire carapace making it very unstable, and the spine’s integrity is in question. Surprisingly, the animal is somewhat active.

Treatment

North Myrtle received fluids, antibiotics, pain medication and an hour’s worth of wound flushing thanks to interns Sara and Kayla. The turtle remains BAR (bright, alert, and responsive), and the water immersion gave us some positive and negative prognostic indicators. S/he does have conscious use of her rear flippers, which is fantastic given the amount of damage near her spinal cord. Her buoyancy and breathing behavior are highly suggestive of pneumonia. Treatment and extensive monitoring of this animal will continue.

Updates

23 September 2008: North Myrtle seems to have stabilized and gained some strength over the last couple of weeks. Hospital staff, volunteers and interns have been nebulizing each day (see photo) with antibiotics and sterile saline to treat pneumonia. The turtle continues to receive wound flushing, antibiotic injections and is left dry docked each night. However, s/he has not eaten as of yet. The prognosis is still poor but any sign of improvement is good news.

14 October 2008: North Myrtle has really taken a turn for the better in the last week! She willingly ate a live blue crab offered to her on 10/6 and has eaten them every day since. After the first three days of being fed with tongs, she has been chasing them down on her own. We are still trying to get her interested in fish since we can’t supply her with the number of crabs needed to sustain her and help her to heal.

4 May 2009: North Myrtle continues to do well. The wounds are healing but very slowly. This turtle is a very finicky eater and messy as well. She is still thin and we are feeding over 2 pounds of food daily encourage weight gain. We continue to give live blue crabs – these are no doubt the favorite food of all our loggerheads in rehabilitation!

19 January 2010: North Myrtle remains in stable condition. Although we are feeding her 2+ pounds of food daily, she pulverizes a large majority of it and refuses to eat most types of fish we offer. Her carapace has healed to the point where it has good structural integrity, but we would like to see this turtle put on more weight.

12 May 2010: North Myrtle remains stable and we are optimistic that she may be releasable in the coming year.

24 August 2010: North Myrtle was transported offshore and returned to the wild today by SCA and SCDNR staff. Good luck, North Myrtle!

Release Date

08/24/2010

Release Location

Offshore of Charleston, SC