Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)
Stranding Location: Cherry Grove, North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Arrival Date: 8/20/2019
Weight: 40.3 lbs
Nobi was found by a fisherman named Joseph Elliot in Cherry Grove, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Nobi was swimming in circles in the water, seemingly unable to swim properly. The fisherman thought Nobi was entangled in fishing line and rescued him but could not find any gear once he had him in hand. Nobi was, however, missing a portion of both of his front and back left flippers. The rescuer called the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) to report the struggling turtle and Linda Mataya responded and transported Nobi to the South Carolina Aquarium.
When Nobi arrived, staff members did a full physical exam. Nobi did not have any signs of entanglement but had likely endured a predator attack from a shark. He was missing the majority of his front left flipper and his rear left flipper. Both of these wounds were mostly healed up though. Staff also noticed Nobi’s left eye was abnormal. We gave Nobi a lot of vitamins, fluids, and antibiotics, as well as treated the wounds from the shark attack. We placed him in shallow water in his tank and let him rest overnight.
September 15, 2019: Nobi has continued to receive fluids and vitamins over the past few weeks since he has not started eating on his own. He has consumed a few different types of fish, but only when staff uses tongs to put the food up to his face or directly into his mouth. Nobi is a fighter though. He is alert and responsive and is prepared to bite you if you come too close to his face. We are hoping that Nobi will begin eating on his own very soon.
October 1, 2019: Nobi has finally started eating on his own! Since our last update, Nobi began eating one specific kind of fish — Capelin. While this is normally not a favorite among our patients, Nobi loves it! He is on a weighted diet, and we are slowly increasing his tank depth. (We are at ¾ of a full tank!) Nobi’s left eye is impaired, likely from previous unknown trauma, so he will receive an ophthalmic exam in the next few weeks to evaluate his vision.
October 15, 2019: Dr. Anne Cook from Animal Eye Care of the Lowcountry performed an eye exam on Nobi and confirmed his issues were caused by trauma that damaged his pupil. Fortunately, he has limited vision in that eye, and his ability to find food is not hindered. He is now eating great and swimming well at full water level! Nobi stranded with with a heavy parasite load, including Caryospora, but since he is more stable and eating consistently we can begin treatment.
November 1, 2019: We began giving Nobi a parasite dewormer and so far, he’s taking it like a champ! We will continue to collect fecals bimonthly to monitor his parasite load. Once a patient is treated for parasites, they will start packing on the pounds because they are consuming all the nutrients from their diets. So even though Nobi is still thin, we anticipate that changing!
November 15, 2019: In the last month, Nobi has completed his anti-parasitic treatment and has gained over two pounds! Since he’s more stable now, we moved him into the deepest tank in Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery. We started him at about half a tank, and we will gradually increase the depth at a pace that’s comfortable for him. Doing this will allow us to see how well Nobi can swim in deep water, and he will build muscle while continuing to learn how to compensate for the missing portions of his flippers. Just keep swimming, Nobi!
December 1, 2019: Nobi is doing great in his new, large tank! We have gradually increased the water level in the tank and it is now over 5 feet full. Nobi has done very well swimming in the full depth tank, and he is learning to compensate for the partial loss of both his left side flippers. We are very impressed with how well he can get around while foraging for food, and with all this exercise he’s building up a lot of muscle!
December 15, 2019: Nobi is continuing to improve his ability to swim and compensate for his partial flipper loss. We will continue to give Nobi time to get stronger, so that he has every shot at being a potential release candidate in the future.