Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)
Stranding Location: Charleston SC Shipping Entrance Channel
Arrival Date: 6/1/2017
Weight: 55.11 lbs
This beautiful Kemp’s ridley was found by South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) employees out in the Charleston Harbor. She was captured in-water and brought on board the research vessel the Lady Lisa. Peach suffered from monofilament entanglement around her left, front flipper and around her neck. Mike Arendt and his crew knew this critically endangered sea turtle was in need of some medical attention, and Peach was quickly transported to the South Carolina Aquarium.
Upon admission, it was clear that the line had been wrapped around the flipper for a few days and had cut almost down to the bone. The line was gently removed and silver collosate was applied to the soft tissue. Peach appeared to be in good body condition, and her blood values were relatively normal. This is only the third adult Kemp’s Ridley to be rehabilitated at the Sea Turtle Care Center. Due to their critically endangered status, Peach represents a very important member of her species population. As the triage process continued to progress, a curve ball was thrown at Care Center staff: she had two pieces of monofilament line sticking out of her esophagus. A series of radiographs failed to find any hooks, and it was evident that she had swallowed the line. Peach was dry docked overnight, and Senior Veterinarian, Dr. Shane Boylan, planned for surgery the next morning.
June 2, 2017: Surgery was performed to find and assess the extent of the monofilament line. An endoscope, a small camera on a metal rod, was used to assess the situation. A small incision was made on the underside of her neck and the endoscope was placed into her esophagus. The images revealed that the line extended passed her throat and into her stomach. Dr. Shane carefully inverted the esophagus in order to get further down into the stomach. He cut the line as far down as possible, and closed up the incision site. It was evident that the line did not end there, but indeed continued into the intestines. Another surgery was necessary.
June 5, 2017: Peach received a CT scan to better access the location of the monofilament line in the gastrointestinal tract as well as any damage it may have caused.
June 7, 2017: Peach’s enterotomy was the first publicly-viewed sea turtle surgery in the McNair Center for Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Surgery Suite. Dr. Shane Boylan and Sea Turtle Care Center staff successfully removed about 120 cm of monofilament line from Peach’s intestines. An incision was made in the soft tissue near the left, rear flipper to expose the intestines. A smaller incision was then made into the intestines to remove the remaining portion of the monofilament line. Additionally, an endoscope was used to make sure there was no remaining line in the gastrointestinal tract. During the surgery, we also saw Peach’s ovaries, and confirmed that she was a female! Peach took about 4 days to recover from the effects of the anesthesia, and our staff pulled long hours to ensure she was recovering well.
June 8, 2017: Peach became the fourth patient to be placed in the new Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery space! For the first few days, Peach was not strong enough to be left in a tank overnight so she was placed in a waterbed with shallow water and lots of foam. 6 days after surgery, she was able to be left in her tank in shallow water without supervision. Peach is very comfortable, and we are monitoring her closely. In order to allow her esophagus and gastrointestinal tract to heal, we will slowly reintroduce food. Peach is currently on a course of antibiotics to prevent any infection.
July 3, 2017: Since our last update, Peach is much stronger and is healing from the damage done by the monofilament line. Unfortunately, Peach is not very interested in food, so staff has gotten creative in the ways we offer food to her. Peach will sometimes eat squid stuffed with some smelt, and if we are lucky, we can sneak some vitamins in with it, too! Peach is still on antibiotics, and we are monitoring her very closely as she still has a long way to go. Peach’s new nickname among staff is “Princess Peach,” and we are happy to see her improving!
July 15, 2017: Peach has finally started to show some good improvement! The sutures (stiches) on her incision, located on her esophagus, came open. After replacing the sutures several times, we are now managing it as an open wound. She just finished her course of antibiotics, so now all that’s left is for her to continue to eat! Peach is still very finicky with her fish, as her ultimate favorite food item is squid. Squid is basically candy for sea turtles. While they love it, it’s filled with a bunch of stuff that’s not the best for them. (Kind of like eating fast food every day: good but not good for you). Peach is also very active and is making great strides in her rehabilitation. Come visit Peach in Recovery today!
August 1, 2017: Peach is finally over being a picky eater! Peach’s diet has been slowly increased as she is eating all of the fish offered to her, as well as her vitamins! We will pull Peach for a physical exam and weight sometime in the next few weeks. Way to go, Peach!
August 15, 2017: On Peach’s last update, we spoke too soon about her no longer being picky when it comes to her fish. Over the last week, Peach has become more finicky with her fish preference. We are not sure why this sudden change has happened, but we trying different options to get her to finish her full diet. Peach will receive a physical exam this week by our vet staff team.
September 15, 2017: Peach continues to earn her nickname Princess Peach! We are excited that she will be pulled for a physical exam, blood work and tagging later this week! If all goes well, Peach might be a candidate for release in the near future.