Kemp’s Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)
Stranding Location: Cherry Grove Pier, North Myrtle Beach, SC
Arrival Date: 6/10/20
Weight: 2.7 kgs (5.87 lb)
Charlotte was caught late in the evening by hook and line from the Cherry Grove Fishing Pier. In addition to the J-hook and leader in the esophagus, the turtle also had a J-hook embedded under its right front flipper in the ventral side of the shoulder. South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) permit holder and transporter, Linda Mataya, responded to the pier and held the turtle safely overnight for transport the next morning. After an already long, busy week of transporting multiple turtles from North Myrtle Beach to the aquarium, Linda was fortunate to be able to meet a SCDNR staff member halfway. Abby Chaney, seasonal SCDNR employee, who was then able to transport Charlotte the remainder of the way to the Sea Turtle Care Center (STCC) for treatment.
Upon arrival, weight, bloodwork and an xray were taken. Once the blood was processed and our vet staff was able to evaluate the radiographs, Charlotte was sedated for the hook removal procedure. Luckily, both hooks were able to be removed under mild sedation without any major surgical procedures. After the procedure, Charlotte was given antibiotics, fluids and vitamins, and allowed to sleep off the sedation overnight in a wetdock bin.
June 15, 2020: The next day Charlotte was tried in a bin with shallow water. She was quiet and relatively inactive at first, but once she began to perk up she was moved to a larger tank with shallow water. She is now active and alert, and has begun to eat small amounts of fish and defecate crab shell material.
September 15, 2020: Charlotte has been doing very well, but she did develop an infection called osteomyelitis in the elbow bone of her front flipper. Osteomyelitis causes bone to break down causing swelling around the affected area and reduced use of the flipper. She received cold laser therapy to help reduce swelling and promote healing. We have seen great improvement with that treatment, which is a good sign it is starting to resolve.
November 15, 2020: Charlotte has been cruising over the last month. She is eating regularly, and her osteomyelitis has not worsened. We will be pulling Charlotte next week to do a weight check and physical exam.
December 15, 2020: Charlotte has been doing well overall! She’s put on more weight and we are still monitoring her osteomyelitis infection in her flipper with monthly x–rays and physical exams. Osteomyelitis appears to have begun resolving, which is a great sign!
January 15, 2021: Charlotte was pulled for an exam, weight and measurement to monitor how the osteomyelitis in her front flipper is healing. On x-rays, the bone infection looks like it’s improving, and we are happy to see that! Clinically, she’s not favoring one flipper and is acting normally. Charlotte is looking great and will hopefully be a release candidate sometime this spring.
February 15, 2021: Charlotte has been doing great, is gaining weight and cruising through rehab. Her osteomyelitis appears to have fully resolved on x-rays. We are hopeful that Charlotte might be a release candidate in the near future.
March 15, 2021: Charlotte has been doing great, is gaining weight and cruising through rehab. Her osteomyelitis appears to have fully resolved on x-rays. Charlotte is scheduled to receive pre-release bloodwork and get a P.I.T tag, so we are hopeful she will be a release candidate in the distant future!
April 15, 2021: Charlotte’s bloodwork results were not quite where we wanted them to be for her to be considered for release. Charlotte just needs a little extra time to get her blood levels up before we do another blood pull to re-evaluate her release status again.
May 15, 2021: Charlotte was pulled for a full body exam and blood pull. Last time we examined Charlotte, her bloodwork did not come back that great. So, we adjusted her diet and UVB exposure to see if that would boost the vitamin D in her blood. We have to send off her blood for analysis which will take a few days to get back. Otherwise, Charlotte was in ideal body condition and her flippers show no long-term problems associated with the osteomyelitis. She will be ready for release if her bloodwork comes back looking good, so fingers crossed!
June 15, 2021: After adjusting Charlotte’s diets and vitamins, and increasing her UV exposure time, we’ve been giving her a little time to improve. We plan to re-evaluate her later this month and check blood work to determine if she’ll be ready for release soon.