green (Chelonia mydas)

Stranding Location: Myrtle Beach, SC

Arrival Date: 04/22/2013

Age: juvenile

Weight: 3.44 kg (7.6 lb.)

Case History

An observant and compassionate crew of city beach workers on Myrtle Beach rescued this little green sea turtle early one very cold morning in April. When a North Myrtle Beach Turtle Team volunteer arrived to help, she was grateful to discover that the beach rakers had built a small sand berm around the turtle to protect it from the cold winds. This was very helpful, as the turtle’s body temperature (taken externally) was only about 55 degrees Fahrenheit when it was rescued. SCDNR transported the turtle, named “Raker” in honor of his rescuers, to our hospital, where s/he was triaged with the help of Dr. Jose Biascoechea, an expert exotic animal vet.

Treatment

Raker’s core body temperature upon arrival was only 58.1 degrees Fahrenheit, so s/he was kept in our temperature-controlled surgery suite to prevent her from warming up too quickly. Initial exam revealed a depressed heart rate (12 bpm) and various poor blood work parameters, including a low blood glucose level (21) and some electrolyte issues. Physically, Raker’s shell was in poor shape; it appeared the keratin scutes covering the bony shell were raised and rounded, with discharge underneath. In addition, this turtle sustained severe corneal abrasions on the eyes. Overall, Raker is very lethargic in behavior and in poor condition.

Updates

29 April 2013: Raker has made astounding progress when you consider how sick this turtle was at admission. Her core body temperature has normalized, and we are administering antibiotics and fluids regularly. Raker has been placed in a shallow pool of filtered water daily for observation and will stay in water overnight tonight for the first time. We are also applying ointment to her eyes as needed. She has passed a few small fecals, which is a great sign, and ate two small pieces of fish we offered this morning! This little turtle is still very sick, but so far we are seeing small positive improvements and are hopeful she’ll make a full recovery.

23 July 2013: The changes Raker has made while in our care for 3 short months is remarkable! Her carapace is completely healed and blood work is now that of a healthy green! She has officially been medically cleared for release, please stay tuned for release details!

Release Date

07/31/2013

Release Location

Isle of Palms County Park, SC