Loggerhead (Caretta caretta)
Stranding Location: South Litchfield, SC
Arrival Date: 08/01/2015
Weight: 33.8 kg (~75 pounds)
Paddle boarders out enjoying South Carolina’s beautiful waterways came across this extremely sick and lethargic loggerhead in South Litchfield near Norris Drive. Luckily for this turtle, they contacted S.C.U.T.E., a volunteer-run nest protection organization that operates under the auspices of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). S.C.U.T.E. contacted SCDNR and arrangements were quickly made to transport this animal to our sea turtle hospital for necessary medical treatment.
This loggerhead, whom we’ve named Norris, is dangerously ill. Blood work revealed potentially lethal parameters, particularly hematocrit, which was only 3% (normally it would be ?30%). Blood protein levels were also very low. Luckily, the heart rate was fairly strong at 28 beats per minute. Staff diligently administered various treatments for Norris following his/her arrival and then let the turtle rest on a comfy bed of foam for the night. Prognosis is poor.
4 August 2015: Norris is still very weak, but strong enough to rest in 6” of water in a filtered tank. We placed a small piece of mackerel in Norris’s mouth two days ago and he/she swallowed it. We will slowly increase Norris’s diet over the next couple of weeks, assuming all continues to go well. On a good note, Norris passed a very small, loose fecal today, which is a great sign that his/her GI tract is still somewhat functional.
21 October 2015: Norris is recovering from his near-fatal illness and is doing so well! Blood work shows that he is now only moderately anemic (PCV 16%), which is a huge improvement over the potentially lethal PCV of 3% at admission. Norris’ behavior is also much improved, and he/she is active and eating well. Our only minor concern is the recent development of a fluid-filled cyst above his/her “knee” on his/her right rear flipper. This cyst is likely caused by Norris’s flipper rubbing against the shell (like a blister). Luckily, it is not severe enough to require treatment, which is good news as treating a cyst directly over a joint would be challenging. Norris will continue to recover in our hospital over the winter, but hopefully will be ready to return to the wild next spring.
28 January 2016: Norris is doing great, and is currently in a holding pattern. The fluid-filled cyst on the right rear flipper has decreased significantly in size and is no longer a concern. He/she continues to eat well and is slowly gaining weight. Looking at this turtle today, you never would have guessed how sick and debilitated he was just 6 months ago. We are confident that Norris will be ready for release in late spring/early summer!
18 April 2016: This upcoming Wednesday, Norris will get his pre-release check-up. This will include weight and measurements, pulling blood and performing a physical examination. If blood work comes back within releasable limits, Norris will be tagged by the SC Department of Natural Resources and on his way to a May release!
May 26, 2016
Isle of Palms, SC