Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas)
Stranding Location: Charleston Harbor Shipping Channel, Charleston, SC
Arrival Date: 1/17/20
Weight: 5.8 lbs (2.67 kg)
Cannon was pulled up in the hopper dredge that is currently dredging the Charleston Harbor shipping channel. According to the observers on board, Cannon made it through the first screen into the main hopper and was seen when he was stuck on the overflow screen of the hopper after the debris had been dumped. It was reported that Cannon was pulled up in very silty, muddy sediment from about 45-49 feet below. The crew onboard the dredge quickly transferred Cannon to shore for evaluation at the South Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Care Center.
Cannon was pretty banged up upon admit and from the chilly water and air temps during transport, he also had a low body temperature. He had what could be a fracture or two on his plastron, his eyes were mostly closed, and he had superficial wounds on other parts of his body. Staff drew blood, monitored vitals, examined the eyes, cleaned the wounds, took an X-ray and a CT scan, and administered fluids, vitamins, and antibiotics. According to the CT scan and x-rays, Cannon did not have any fractures nor did it look like he had any internal gas bubbles commonly associated with decompression sickness. Luckily, the locations on the plastron that looked to be fractured were just superficial wounds that we were able to treat topically. Cannon did have a large amount of mud, silt, and sand packed into his eyes which staff cleaned out and treated daily with eye drops. After receiving all of his medications, Cannon was given a final dose of pain medication and put in a water bed to rest while staff closely monitored him through the weekend.
January 21, 2020: Cannon was placed in a shallow tank of water yesterday and even ate a small piece of fish from tongs. We are unsure at this time how much Cannon is able to see as he has only eaten fish off tongs, and does not seem to show much interest in it from the bottom of his tank. However, he is fairly active and alert which is a good sign! We have decided to continue giving him eye drops whenever he is out for other injections and treatments. Fingers crossed that this little guy continues to heal!
February 1, 2020: Cannon continues to slowly improve since our last update. He is in slightly deeper water now and has begun to eat small amounts of fish. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to get him to eat any veggies which is important for green sea turtles. It can take a new patient a little while to learn that the veggies we are offering them are meant to be eaten. They’re obviously not foraging for fresh crisp romaine lettuce out in the ocean! Cannon’s wounds are healing well as we continue to give topical treatments and do laser therapy. A few days after admit Cannon defecated two pieces of soft plastic. We are monitoring his defecations closely for regularity and looking through them for other pieces of plastic.
February 15, 2020: Cannon is a picky toddler who does not like his veggies! Cannon is improving physically and continues to eat his fish daily. However, he is picky about how and when he wants to eat his lettuces that we offer him. Despite this, he is gaining weight which is a good sign, so we are not super concerned with his picky eating tendencies. He is also in a full tank of water, and is nearly finished with his antibiotic prescriptions!
March 1, 2020: Cannon continues to improve every single day. He is much better about eating his veggies and has begun receiving vitamins daily with his fish. He has physically improved greatly, except for a small abrasion on the tip of his beak. We treated it topically and are monitoring it closely. Right now, Cannon is entering the long-term recovery portion of his rehab and is out of the woods medically!
March 15, 2020: Cannon is nearly done with his antibiotic injections! His wounds are looking better each time we examine him, but there are two very bad fractures in the skin layer on his plastron that we are monitoring carefully since they are deep. Behaviorally, he has been doing very well and is now acclimating better to changes in his environment – a sign that he is less stressed. We are very happy with his progress!
April 1, 2020: Cannon continues to do very well! We are pulling him out of his tank monthly to do a regular weight and measurement check, and to get eyes on his plastron wounds. They will heal easily on their own, but we are on turtle time now. Sea turtles have slow metabolisms and, therefore, heal very slowly. The best thing we can do for Cannon’s lingering wounds is to keep his tank water clean by netting debris out quickly, doing water changes often, and feeding him a highly nutritious diet.
May 1, 2020: Cannon was pulled out of his tank last week for a general exam to evaluate his weight and growth again. We are happy to report that both are increasing slowly and steadily, and he looks great overall! We also pulled some blood for a preliminary pre-release evaluation. The injury on his plastron is also slowly but surely healing up; it only had a small amount of scab tissue left in it.
May 15, 2020: We are happy to announce that Cannon was released by boat this week into a salt marsh location! Way to go Cannon!