Loggerhead (Caretta caretta)

Stranding Location: Pritchard’s Island, SC

Arrival Date: 07/07/2008

Age: adult female

Weight: 148+ kg (326 lbs.)

Case History

This big girl was seen attempting to nest on Pritchard’s Island with two significant old boat strike wounds on the caudal part (near the tail) of her carapace. We removed copious amounts of mud, crabs, sea pork, leeches, barnacles, skeleton shrimp, and dead shell when she arrived early this morning, revealing wounds covered with fibronecrotic membrane, a scab-like tissue.

Treatment

Her in-house bloodwork is not normal but not dire. More bloodwork is being processed. She is in fresh water to loosen the epibiota (the barnacles, leeches, etc.) prior to debriding (removing dead and unwanted debris from her wounds). She is also on medication (antibiotics, iron, etc.) to facilitate healing. We will perform an ultrasound (a non-invasive procedure) for eggs when the stress of capture subsides.

Updates

Mama Pritchard is receiving daily ultrasounds because she is holding calcified eggs. Six eggs have been deposited into her holding tank. She has recently started eating live blue crabs and now consumes 3 pounds of prepared fish each day.

12 August 2008: Mama Pritchard is doing great and has deposited ~25 eggs over the last few weeks. There is a slim chance these are viable but we have them buried in sand hoping they will eventually hatch.

14 October 2008: Mama Pritchard finished depositing her eggs (146 total) in early September, and we continue to watch the incubated eggs for signs of hatching. Mama has been moved into a larger filtered tank which allows her more swimming space, and wound treatment has slowed to once per week.

17 November 2008: Recently, SCDNR sea turtle biologists came to the Aquarium’s turtle hospital to examine Mama Pritchard’s incubating eggs. Unfortunately, none of the eggs had any signs of being viable. Check out the full post by our veterinarian, Dr. Boylan, on the Hospital Blog. A huge thanks to all who were involved in Mama Pritchard’s rescue, the egg incubation, and to those who have visited and supported the Sea Turtle Rescue Program!

19 March 2009: Mama Pritchard is such a neat turtle. Like the most recent photo shows, she loves to look out of the window of her tank at other turtles and hospital visitors. She has a wonderful disposition and is always very tolerant of wound treatment. Her wounds are healing but very, very slowly, as is to be expected in a reptile with such a slow metabolism.

19 January 2010: Mama is still doing well! This big girl continues to amaze visitors, particularly children, and she is such a joy to have in the hospital. She eats all of the healthy food we offer, and we continue to feed her live blue crabs when we have them as she loves to chase this natural prey item around her tank and is adept at catching and consuming these tasty treats. We are keeping our fingers crossed that she will be releasable this year!

13 April 2010: Mama is being released! Come see her return to the wild at 4:30 PM this Saturday, April 17th, at Isle of Palms County Park. (Please be aware that parking will be limited and parking fees apply.) Hope to see you there!

Release Date

04/17/2010

Release Location

Isle of Palms County Park, SC

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