loggerhead (Caretta caretta)

Stranding Location: Myrtle Beach, SC

Arrival Date: 07/16/2009

Age: juvenile

Weight: 44.8 kg (98.8 lb)

Case History

This 80-pound (38.4 kg) loggerhead stranded on the beach in front of Pirate’s Cove Campground. S/he is mildly dehydrated and moderately thin with no significant anemia. S/he is very lethargic with a very low heart rate. Blood glucose is elevated due to a stress response. The marine growth on the carapace (epibiota) was interesting with numerous small slipper shells, 10-15 ribbed mussels, moderate number of small C. testudinaria barnacles, and blonde hair algae.

Treatment

Initial treatment (supportive therapy) included fluids, antibiotics and vitamins. We will know more after the full bloodwork analysis is returned from the lab and after radiographs (X-rays) are taken. The turtle was left over night on a thick foam pad with 2″ of freshwater.

Updates

25 July 2009: Pirate appears to have tolerated glycopyrolate therapy over the weekend to help with the low heart rate. Her bloodwork was normal except for a little dehydration and hyperglycemia. We have no idea why she stranded, but it was likely an acute issue. Radiographs did not find any hooks, radiodense foreign bodies or pneumonia.

24 August 2009: Through fecal analysis we have found multiple parasites in Pirate’s intestinal tract, including a strange amoeba and flukes. On several occasions we have tube fed a healthy fish gruel with vitamins and medications to provide nutrition and concurrently kill parasites. S/he remains quiet but responsive. Her jaw tetany (lockjaw) may have improved slightly.

19 January 2010: Pirate’s severe lockjaw has improved slowly over the past several months with the aid of muscle relaxants and physical therapy, and s/he is now able to open her jaw a bit on her own. Medication was discontinued recently and we are hopeful that jaw movement and swallowing ability will continue to improve. The long-term goal is to have her regain the ability to feed on her own. Pirate’s weight is being maintained through tube-feeding three times weekly, and s/he is alert.

12 May 2010: Pirate is doing so well! Jaw motility increased to the point where s/he was able to successfully consume small pieces of fish on her own beginning in mid-March, and physical therapy now consists solely of feeding her twice daily to exercise the muscles used in opening the jaw and swallowing. In addition, live blue crabs were introduced into her diet on 18 April and, while she has difficulty consuming them, she is successfully eating them on a daily basis. See our hospital blog for recent video of Pirate capturing and eating this natural prey item!

29 November 2010: While improvement in Pirate’s jaw motility has plateaued over the past several months, s/he does demonstrate sufficient bite force to consume hard-shelled prey and jaw range of motion is fairly good. Although s/he eagerly consumes her fish diet daily, s/he occasionally shows little interest in chasing down live prey and still demonstrates some difficulty consuming larger pieces of fish. However, we are very satisfied with the results of Pirate’s recent blood work (PCV=37).

15 January 2011: Pirate will be evaluated for release this spring!

7 May 2011: We will miss you, Pirate!

Release Date

05/07/2011

Release Location

Ise of Palms County Park, SC

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