Loggerhead (Caretta Caretta)
Stranding Location: Charleston Harbor
Arrival Date: May 26, 2016
Weight: 45 kg (100 pounds)
The SC Department of Natural Resources Marine Resources Division conducts an in-water research program to assess the population and health of sea turtles off the coast of SC and GA. Research vessels are shrimp boats equipped with modified trawl nets to catch sea turtles with as little bycatch as possible. Once on the boat, turtles receive a battery of tests, morphometrics are taken, and turtles are tagged and returned to the water within a few minutes. Occasionally, stingrays are caught in the same net as turtles which increases chances for injury from the stingrays barbs. This was the case with a juvenile loggerhead in May 26th that sustained a laceration to the neck. Researchers were extremely quick to administer dexamethasone, a steroid to combat the venom excreted from the stingray barb. The Sea Turtle Rescue team was immediately contacted so they could prepare for the animal’s transfer from the boat to the Sea Turtle Hospital.
At around 7:30 pm that evening, “Ray” arrived at the South Carolina Aquarium where veterinary assistant Whitney Daniel and Sea Turtle Hospital interns and volunteers were quick to perform triage. Physical examination revealed a 5 cm laceration on the ventral side of the neck. The wound was flushed with sterile saline and treated topically with triple antibiotic ointment and Silver Collosate. The turtle then received vitamins, fluids and antibiotics. Pain medications were also administered. Subsequent radiographs revealed a small piece of the barb embedded in the neck which would require surgery to remove.
31 May 2016: Ray underwent surgery today to remove the barb and we are happy to report that it was a success! Dr. Shane Boylan was able to skillfully access and remove the 2.5 cm barb through a small incision on the side of the neck. Ray recovered from anesthesia and is doing well.
18 June 2016: Ray continues to do well post-surgery. The sutures were removed early this week, and the stingray barb laceration is healing up nicely. Once the laceration in healed, since this turtle came in to the hospital in good body condition, Ray will be able to return back home!
18 August 2016: Ray is scheduled for phacoemulsification, or cataract surgery, next week.
13 September 2016: Although Ray healed up really well from the stingray barb removal, Ray developed cataracts, preventing him/her from release. Thanks to our consulting vet, Dr. Anne Cook of Animal Eye Care of the Lowcountry, Ray successfully underwent phacoemulsification (cataract surgery). Ray received antibiotic eye drops daily to prevent post-surgery infection and inflammation. Ray has made tremendous improvement in his/her ability to locate food, including live prey!
September 30, 2016: Ray had a post cataract surgery eye examination from Dr. Anne Cook, and we are ecstatic to report that Ray’s eyes look great! Ray is now able to successfully locate food and track live blue crabs in his/her tank. With this continued progress, we are hoping that Ray will be released in the near future. Stay tuned!
October 14, 2016
Folly Beach County Park