Loggerhead (Caretta caretta)
Stranding Location: Kiawah Island, SC
Arrival Date: 6/13/20
Weight: 65 kgs (143 lb)
Queen was found stranded by beachgoers on Kiawah Island. South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) was contacted to access this stranded turtle. Charlotte Hope, SCDNR staff, arrived on the scene, and given that Queen was was lethargic, covered in barnacles, and emaciated, she immediately knew this turtle was likely debilitated. Charlotte then transported Queen to the South Carolina Aquarium for life saving treatment.
Queen’s appearance indicated that she had debilitated turtle syndrome (DTS) characterized by lethargy, emaciation and a heavy epibiont load. The epibiont load was present on her shell, flippers, she was covered in pluff mud, and even had some coral growing on her shell! Queen received a thorough exam and a blood draw. Bloodwork results indicated that although Queen was not terribly dehydrated, she was severely anemic, which is another issue caused by DTS. Queen also had a low glucose (blood sugar) level, so fluids with a small amount of dextrose sugar were administered subcutaneously (under the skin) along with vitamins and additional fluids. Queen also received Hetastarch which was administered intravenously. Hetastarch helps to increase the volume of blood plasma of patients by pulling in fluids and vitamins into the vascular space, to help circulate the red blood cells through the bloodstream and deliver oxygen throughout the body more effectively. Queen’s heart rate was strong, but on the lower end of a “normal” heart rate for a loggerhead sea turtle. Queen was also started on an antibiotic regime to help combat any opportunistic secondary infections that can occur because of a lowered immune system. Queen had very prominent cataracts in both of her eyes and we aren’t quite sure what caused them yet. Queen was set up on a heavily foam padded backboard in a low water tank to rest overnight. She was covered in marine leeches, which contribute to the anemia, so the salinity of the water was kept low to help them detach and die.
June 14, 2020: Queen was very quiet and received another round of fluids and vitamins the day after admit. She did perk up some, so after a water change we were able to raise the water just enough to run the filtration in the tank.
June 15, 2020: After a full day of resting, Queen’s water level was raised enough to help float her off the foam and allow her to swim if she had the strength to. Queen got around the tank comfortably, and even ate some fish off of the tongs! Send good thoughts Queen’s way as she starts her road to recovery.