Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas)
Stranding Location: Coffin Point, St. Helena, SC
Arrival Date: 2/24/20
Weight: 5.7 lb. (2.6 kg)
This juvenile green sea turtle was found in the evening at low tide in shallow, muddy water off a residential dock at a creek in Coffin Point. The temperature at the time was in the mid 50’s and the turtle was cold and lethargic. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) was contacted, and Keith and Katrina Rossman (area permit holders and SCDNR Transporters) responded to the scene and helped get the turtle to safety overnight. SCDNR staff were able to deliver the turtle to the SCA Sea Turtle Care Center the next morning for assessment and treatment.
Sweetgrass did not have any external injuries when found stranded, but appeared to be suffering from cold stunning. The area where the turtle stranded was pretty far up in a creek and the temperatures of shallow waters drop more drastically with colder weather. Sweetgrass was kept overnight at a steady temperature to allow her to warm up very gradually. After transport and upon arrival at the hospital the next day, the turtle’s temperature was in the low 70’s. With this gradual warming, the turtle’s energy level had also improved. The bloodwork, physical exam and radiographs all appeared to be within relatively normal limits, and Sweetgrass is in pretty good body condition! Sweetgrass was then given fluids for hydration, vitamins, and antibiotics to prevent any complications from the initial cold stress.
February 28, 2020: Shortly after receiving treatment, Sweetgrass was tried in a very shallow tank down in our Sea Turtle Hospital. She was alert and swimming well at a low water depth. We will eventually increase the water level as she continues to become more active and stable. Sweetgrass is being offered a piece of fish and a leaf of lettuce daily, and has shown slight interest, but has not eaten yet. It is not unusual for a patient to take a few days before starting to eat. The initial effects of the cold, in addition to the stress of stranding, can affect their appetite for a short period of time. Luckily, Sweetgrass is looking more comfortable in the water every day and has begun to bite at the food!