Species Type Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas)
Stranding Location: North Cape Island, Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, SC
Arrival Date: April 18, 2021
Weight:: 6 lbs (3 kgs)
Jade was found stranded on North Cape Island in Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge by a boater who happened to be in the right place at the right time. Jade had a lot of epibiota growing on her shell and appeared to be lethargic so they promptly contacted the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). The boater was already heading in the direction of McClellanville, so SCDNR instructed them to meet SCDNR volunteer permit holders, Barb Gobien and Mary Pringle, at the boat landing. They then transported Jade the rest of the way to the South Carolina Aquarium for further treatment.
At admit, Jade was fairly active and had a lot of barnacles, tunicates, algae and other epibionts growing on her carapace. Though she was very thin, her bloodwork was pretty normal but did indicate that she was dehydrated. Vet staff took an x-ray, checked her heart rate, started her on antibiotics and gave her fluids with vitamins to help rehydrate her. X-rays showed the presence of gas in her gastrointestinal tract, so the vet team decided that we would schedule a CT scan for the following day. Once her fluids were administered, we made her a comfortable waterbed comprised of shallow water and lots of foam in a small bin, so she could rest after her big night of rescue and triage.
April 25, 2021: The day after admit, Jade was given more fluids and given a fresh water dip to rehydrate her and to help gently remove the epibiota on her carapace. She was also pretty quiet and lethargic during the day, so we had her rest in another waterbed overnight. The following day we gave her more fluids and a CT scan. The CT scan showed a lot of gas throughout her gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Afterwards, we tried her in a shallow water tank and, as expected, we observed that she was caudally buoyant from the gas. She was very active at first, but after a few hours she began to slow down. We decided to let her rest in a floating kiddie pool attached to the tank so that she didn’t have to swim overnight. We have begun to slowly offer food to her to help get her GI tract back online, and she’s been eating both her fish and lettuce really well. We are watching for any plastics or other marine debris that may be present in her defecations. Additionally, we will closely monitor the gas in her GI tract to make sure there’s no possibility of an impaction and that what she’s eating is able to make its way through.
May 15, 2021: Jade has been slowly but surely improving since our last update. We are gradually increasing her water level, diet and salinity. The gas in her GI seems to have improved as she is pooping up a storm daily, so things are moving and grooving in her gastrointestinal tract. She does have a few pockets of exposed bone on her carapace where some of the barnacles were deeply adhered to her shell, and we are treating it topically when she is out for her antibiotic injections.
June 15, 2021: Jade has been improving over the past month. The areas of exposed bone on her carapace have healed up incredibly well and are beginning to be covered with keratin again. We are pulling her biweekly to be sunned outside to help get her some UV light exposure. This will raise her vitamin D levels and help heal her carapace. Jade has finished her antibiotics and is at a maintenance diet, meaning we will only increase or decrease it based on her weight gain. Since admit, she has grown a little and has put on weight, which are all good signs!