loggerhead (Caretta caretta)

Stranding Location: Santee Pass behind Capers Island

Arrival Date: 09/14/2010

Age: subadult

Weight: 73 kg (161 lb)

Case History

Santee, a 156-pound loggerhead sea turtle, was observed unable to dive in the water near Santee Spit and rescued by a fishing charter boat 14 September 2010. Transported to the SCA’s Sea Turtle Hospital by SCDNR, Santee presented with edema resulting from abnormally low blood protein levels and a floating disorder that causes her to float with her right side elevated.

Treatment

Blood work taken upon admittance indicated minor anemia (PCV = 17.5) and infection. Santee was started on a regimen of injectable antibiotics, vitamin B complex, and calcium gluconate. Additionally, radiographs revealed excessive gas in the intestines on the right side of the body (likely causing the flotation disorder) and a potential GI impaction.

Updates

5 October 2010: Although strong enough to reside in approximately a foot of water in a filtered tank, Santee remains very lethargic and doesn’t object to treatments. Twice weekly, she is being tube-fed a concoction of mineral oil and lactulose to aid peristalsis of the gastrointestinal tract. Yesterday’s X-rays showed movement of barium (a contrast medium) past the impaction, so she was fed two mackerel loaded with additional barium to aid in subsequent radiographs and monitoring of her GI tract. We are hopeful we’ll be able to avoid surgery to remove the impaction.

28 November 2010: Exciting news! After nearly two months of barium studies and mineral oil tube-feedings, we were able to feel and manually remove the impaction from Santee’s colon on 1 November (see picture). Surprisingly, the impaction was not composed of foreign materials but instead was a large segment of horseshoe crab shell, a natural prey item for loggerheads. Santee’s diet is slowly being increased and she has begun to defecate on her own. Our current treatment focus is to improve Santee’s blood work (PCV=14) and to deworm her (the nematode Cucullanus was found in a recent fecal).

18 January 2011: Santee’s PCV is now 21, which is an improvement but still lower than we’d like. We will continue to increase and closely monitor her food intake to alleviate this problem. Otherwise, she’s doing well and loving the view from her tank window!

Release Date

06/17/2011

Release Location

Isle of Palms County Park, SC

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