green (Chelonia mydas)

Stranding Location: Kiawah Island’s Ocean Golf Course

Arrival Date: 04/26/2010

Age: juvenile

Weight: 14.08 kg (~31 lb)

Case History

This 8.36 kg (18 lb) green sea turtle was found on the beach near the 18th hole on Kiawah Island’s Ocean Golf Course. In addition to being covered with various epibionts including barnacles, skeleton shrimp, and algae, 18th Green was lethargic and underweight. S/he is strong enough to reside in a filtered tank in the hospital, but is refusing food and intermittently floats posterior end-high. Radiographs reveal air in the intestines, and we suspect this turtle is suffering from a gastrointestinal tract impaction.

Treatment

18th Green was placed in a shallow freshwater bath for two days to remove the large number of epibionts covering her shell and soft tissues. Antibiotics are being administered to combat infection, and the GI tract’s lack of motility is being treated with mineral oil tube-feedings, enemas, and barium studies (a contrast study that allows us to visually examine the GI tract using radiographs). In addition, we are administering fluids subcutaneously to ensure this turtle remains hydrated.

Updates

17 May 2010: With the exception of a single smelt, 18th Green has not eaten on her own since she arrived in the hospital. Although radiographs taken to date are inconclusive, we are concerned that this turtle is suffering from an intestinal blockage. We administered a second dose of contrast medium (barium) via tube-feeding today and will begin another series of radiographs tomorrow to determine if the blockage can be identified. Worst case scenario: exploratory surgery to visually examine the GI tract for signs of a physical obstruction.

31 May 2010: 18th Green passed a fecal yesterday! The fecal was formed but not compacted, and appeared to be composed of seagrasses which would’ve been eaten prior to her admittance over one month ago. Although this is an encouraging sign, 18th Green may still have a partial impaction, shows no interest in food, and requires tube-feeding.

4 June 2010: 18th Green remains inappetant. Barium still remains in the system from 3 weeks ago. Another small fecal was found on 1 June but we would like to see more. We continue to tube-feed her mineral oil concoctions with vitamins and give fluids for support (dextrose, saline, LRS). Gas remains in the intestines and plication-like finding on radiographs today may suggest a linear foreign body (string-like problem that doesn’t show up on x-rays). The turtle remains active. Prognosis is guarded.

3 July 2010: 18th Green has passed several pieces of plastic over the past month. Although her GI tract is functioning, radiographs still reveal barium in her intestines and a partial blockage is likely (especially considering her prior ingestion of foreign materials). On a positive note, this little green ate a squid head on 8 June and has been eating on her own consistently since 19 June!

7 August 2010: 18 has developed quite a large abscess on her neck, likely the result of her shell irritating the soft neck tissue. This situation is likely due to both her posterior buoyancy issue and her curiosity in looking up at tour guests who visit her. Dr. Boylan lanced the abscess on 3 August, and we will continue daily treatments to help it heal.

28 November 2010: 18 continues to thrive in our hospital and is currently sharing a tank with our other green, Ripley. His neck callus will be surgically removed just prior to release, which will likely occur next year.

10 July 2011: Two abscesses composed of caseous exudate were successfully removed from 18’s neck on 28 June, and he has recovered well! 18 is enjoying his own filtered tank with a minnow for a tank-mate, and is gaining weight well. We are still hoping to release this green turtle later this year.

Release Date

09/30/2011

Release Location

Kiawah Island, SC