green (Chelonia mydas)

Stranding Location: Folly River, SC

Arrival Date: 10/14/2012

Age: juvenile

Weight: 6 kg (~13 lb.)

Case History

Nearly all of our turtles undergoing rehabilitation for boat strikes arrive at our hospital with infected wounds that are days to weeks old, as the animals are typically rescued only after the wounds and associated blood loss weaken the turtle and cause it to strand on the beach. In a rare turn of events, this little green we’ve named “Ollie” was rescued by NOAA employees working on a boat in the Folly River who observed this turtle being hit by another boat. SCDNR transported Ollie to our hospital immediately after the incident, and Ollie was able to receive treatment for his injuries within two hours of being hit.

Treatment

Ollie arrived with fresh wounds to his upper jaw and the top of his shell near the right front flipper. Unexpectedly, we also discovered evidence of another recent boat strike, as Ollie had older wounds on the rear of his carapace and a severe plastron lesion that penetrated all the way through the bone (see picture). Fluids, pain meds, and antibiotics were administered, but blood work revealed Ollie’s CO2 level was critically high (he was holding his breath) and his pH was in the lethal zone at 6.9. We intubated Ollie and put him on a ventilator overnight to assist him with breathing, and initial prognosis was poor.

Updates

22 October 2012: Ollie’s first few nights with us were touch-and-go, as he was too weak to remain in water unsupervised for fear of drowning. However, after a week of treatment, he is resting comfortably in a shallow tank of filtered water and some of his feistiness has returned. There is still a possibility that the g-forces associated with the strike to the jaw may result in neurological impairment but, luckily, we haven’t seen any signs of brain trauma yet.

25 February 2013: What a dramatic change since Ollie’s last update! This little green is happily swimming and munching on smelt and veggies, and his beak is healing well (5th photo shows his beak in early December 2012). Thanks to the generosity of donors, many of our turtles have received free Companion K-Laser therapy on their wounds, and we love how quickly they are healing because of this non-invasive treatment. Ollie has received these pain-free laser treatments on his injuries, and has tolerated the procedures well. Hopefully Ollie will be released later this year.

7 April 2013: Today, Ollie joined a caravan of 52 sea turtles headed to balmy Florida for a multi-facility release coordinated by the NEAq!

Release Date

04/07/2013

Release Location

East Coast of Florida

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