Species Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas)
Stranding Location: DeBordieu, Georgetown SC
Arrival Date: 3/16/2020
Weight: 5.98 lbs (2.72 kg)
Beach goer, Worth Hinshaw, found Hungry Neck floating in the water on Debidue beach. After bringing Hungry from the water, he noticed Hungry was missing a back flipper and had some damage to a front flipper. Worth contacted The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). SCDNR sent out a volunteer transporter, Bill Bradson. Bill is also a member of the South Carolina Untied Turtle Enthusiasts (SCUTE). SCUTE is a group of volunteers working with sea turtle conservation in Georgetown and Horry counties in SC. Once Bill arrived, he did a quick assessment of Hungry before being transported to the Aquarium. Bill met up with another SCDNR volunteer transporter, Barb Gobien. They met half way and Barb finished the drive to the Aquarium.
Upon admit, staff noticed Hungry Neck had several wounds all over his body. He was missing his rear left flipper entirely, had severe damage to the other back flipper, a laceration to the front right flipper, and an injury to the right side of his face that appears to be from a predator. We think the wounds to his flippers are likely boat strike injuries. Most likely he was hit by a boat, which then limited his mobility making him an easy target for a small shark. Along with the prop strikes, he had several small barnacles growing on him, indicating he wasn’t swimming as much or at all. Radiographs showed he has several broken bones in both right flippers, front and back. The radiograph showed that the back flipper was just attached by skin, as almost all the bones that hold it together were fractured. It is worrisome that he is already missing one flipper entirely and could potentially lose the other. Our typical rule of thumb for a reasonable turtle is two flippers on opposing sides, i.e. front right, back left or vice versa. If he were to lose the other flipper, we would have to evaluate if he would be a good release candidate. After radiographs and a full body exam, Hungry received some pain meds, fluids, vitamins, and antibiotics. His bloodwork, overall, wasn’t terrible and he was a little dehydrated, but the fluids helped with that. We let him rest in a comfy waterbed overnight.
March 22, 2020: The following days after Hungry Neck’s admit we continued to take it easy on him. He received pain meds for one more day and continued to receive fluids daily. On Friday, the 20th, Hungry went through a procedure to try to reattach his back right flipper. Dr. Boylan was able to reattach the flipper, but it will take time to see if his efforts were successful. We need Hungry to heal the area so we can evaluate his flipper use. Two days following surgery, we tried Hungry in a tank and he was full of energy! He was even using his back right flipper slightly. He was a little uncoordinated, so to be on the safe side we wet docked him over night. While we happy to see he’s an energetic turtle, Hungry Neck has a long road ahead of him and his prognosis is guarded.