Loggerhead (Caretta caretta)
Stranding Location: Tower Beach, Hilton Head Island, SC
Arrival Date: 7/28/2017
Weight: 20.72 kg (45.5 pounds)
Caldwell was caught by a fisherman on Tower Beach at marker 33 on Hilton Head Island. The fishermen brought Caldwell to shore, cut the fishing line and left him for rescuers to find. Once rescuers found him they noticed that he was lethargic and his body temperature was high from being out of the water. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) volunteers transported him from Hilton Head Island to the South Carolina Aquarium for further treatment.
Upon admit, Caldwell had no visible monofilament injuries to the outside of his body. X-rays showed a hook in Caldwell’s mouth. Vet staff was relieved to see that the hook didn’t make it any further down his throat! Caldwell was sedated to make him more comfortable, and vet staff removed the hook and leader with ease. After the hook was removed, staff noticed the fishing line continued down his throat. When the line was gently pulled, staff realized it wouldn’t be that easy. X-rays were viewed again and sure enough there was another hook inside of Caldwell’s throat. It is common for fishermen to use a two hook rig when fishing off beaches to increase their chances of catching fish. Unfortunately, they don’t always catch the animal they intend to. The second hook and leader were not accessible through Caldwell’s mouth – vet staff needed to make an incision in the throat and esophagus to remove the second hook. An endoscope was utilized to help staff find the location of the hook to make the incision. Luckily the incision was made in just the right spot on the first try. The hook and leader were removed very easily from there! Caldwell was placed in a bin with foam to keep him comfortable and dry while he healed from surgery.
August 1, 2017: Caldwell remains in a bin on foam to give his incision site a little time to heal itself. Since the incision was made in his throat he won’t be able to eat solid food for a few weeks due to the risk of tearing open the internal incision (in the esophagus). Caldwell will be put on fluids until the site heals enough to offer soft foods. After a few days in shallow water, Caldwell is now in a full tank and is doing great!
August 15, 2017: Caldwell received his two week checkup after surgery and passed with flying colors! Caldwell is able to start eating a slowly increasing but regular diet. He gobbled up the first two pieces of fish we offered! This is a good sign that Caldwell is ready to recover and get back out into the wild!
September 15, 2017: Caldwell is doing wonderfully. His incision site looks great and is healing nicely. He was moved up to Recovery to ride out Hurricane Irma in a new tank! He loves his new tank with a window, and he stays active throughout the day. Caldwell will be getting tagged for release next week. He’s not quite ready to head back home yet but he’s getting there!