Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas)
Stranding Location: South Beach Marina, Sea Pines, Hilton Head Island, SC
Stranding Date: 12/9/2017
Weight: 2.55 kg (5.5 pounds)
Anemone was found floating at the surface of the water by a boat captain near South Beach Marina on Hilton Head Island. Luckily the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) was contacted, as this juvenile green’s body temperature was a chilly 51ᵒF. Amber Kuehn, manager of HHI Sea Turtle Protection Project and SCDNR volunteer transporter, responded to the call and made the four-hour round trip from South Beach HHI to Jacksonboro to hand off the turtle to SCDNR Sea Turtle Technician Kacie Ferguson. Kacie then drove the cold-stunned turtle the rest of the way to the Sea Turtle Care Center.
Once Anemone’s low body temperature was communicated us, we instantly lowered the temperature in our medical facility. As with hypothermia in humans, when sea turtles are cold stunned their body temperatures must be warmed up slowly. Upon arrival, Anemone received a physical exam, radiographs and a blood draw. Anemone’s blood work was relatively normal but indicated that he was dehydrated and radiographs look good as well. He was started on antibiotics and received fluids subcutaneously (under the skin). Anemone was left resting comfortably on foam in our medical facility overnight.
December 14, 2017: Anemone has been doing really well in a shallow water tank. We have offered food, but so far he has shown no interest. We will continue to monitor him closely but we are hopeful for a speedy recovery!
January 15, 2018: Anemone continues to have no interest in food and is being tube fed to provide nutritional support. Anemone has received a contrast study, radiographs and multiple CTs to make sure that there is no impaction present somewhere in her gastrointestinal tract. Anemone’s fecal showed that she has a very dangerous intestinal parasite called Caryospora, which may be contributing to her lack of appetite so we are treating her for that as well.
February 1, 2018: We have exciting news about Anemone! Anemone not only started to eat this week, but he FINALLY defecated! Our biologists and vet staff we super excited about this! As rehabbers, the moment a patient finally eats is a big milestone in their recovery. We are not out of the woods yet, but we are hopeful this positive trend with Anemone will continue!
February 15, 2018: Anemone is starting to show more interest in food but is not eating on her own yet. We are providing her nutrition through tube feeding until she starts to eat on her own.
March 1, 2018: We have some awesome news to report on Anemone’s journey! Colleagues from the sea turtle hospital at the University of Florida’s Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience recently visited our Sea Turtle Care Center and suggested that we offer ulva, which is sea lettuce that grows here in the southeast. We were able to easily collect some, and Anemone did not hesitate to munch on the few pieces that we offered her! Not only is she eating the sea lettuce, but she is also starting to eat fish! Now that she is eating on her own, we no longer have to tube feed her. We are so happy to see how much Anemone is improving!
March 15, 2018: Anemone is doing fantastic! Not only is Anemone eating “human” lettuce, she is also getting regular diet increases and is pooping up a storm. We are still treating Anemone for the intestinal parasite Caryospora and collecting fecals weekly to see if her parasite load is decreasing. Anemone has made a 180 compared to where she was just a few weeks ago and is a great example of how sometimes turtles just need time, patience and a clean, quiet space to rehabilitate.
April 1, 2018: Anemone is doing phenomenally! This little green has come a long way is now eating a steady diet. She even eats her vitamins for us off of the bottom of the tank!
April 15, 2018: Anemone continues to munch on her greens and eat all of her vitamins! We are still running fecal exams weekly to make sure her parasite load is dropping and it appears to be doing just that. Anemone is slowly gaining weight and is doing great overall!
May 15, 2018: Anemone is doing phenomenally! We are so proud of the progress this little green has made. We are still collecting a weekly fecal and deworming her to make sure her parasites do not return. After several weeks of “clean” fecals we will start to evaluate her for release. Way to go, Anemone!
June 1, 2018: Anemone went through one more round of dewormer, and she’s been showing “clean” fecals for almost a month now! Hopefully Anemone will be able to go back home very soon!
June 15, 2018: Anemone is doing wonderful. We’re so proud of how far she’s come and how awesome she’s doing now. She loves to lay in front of the window in her tank. She also really enjoys scratching her shell on her back scratcher. Staff will be evaluating Anemone for release within the next couple of weeks.
July 1, 2018: On June 25, Anemone was tagged for release! On tagging day she received a PIT tag and had her blood pulled. A PIT tag is a microchip tag that is very similar to what a cat or dog has. This tag can’t track her, however, if she does come back on land we’ll know it’s her. Anemone isn’t quite ready to go yet, but hopefully in the next couple of weeks she’ll be heading back home!