Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempi)
Stranding Location: Apache Pier, Myrtle Beach, SC
Arrival Date: 6/10/2017
Weight: 2.46 kg (5.4 pounds)
Ucee was hooked by a fisherman on Apache Pier in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The fisherman told Linda Mataya, a South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) transporter, that both of his hooks had fallen out of the turtle’s mouth. However, there was still fishing line coming from Ucee’s mouth. Linda brought Ucee to the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Care Center for treatment.
Upon admit, Ucee was very active and had a high heart rate. Radiographs were taken to assess the location of the hook in the esophagus. Turns out there were two hooks! One hook was connected to the monofilament in the esophagus and the other was in the stomach. Care Center staff knew they were in for a long night after seeing that! Associate veterinarian, Dr. Julie Cavin, conducted surgery in the McNair Center for Sea Turtle Conservation and Research to remove both hooks. An incision was made on the underside of the neck and throat and into the esophagus. The endoscope was used to locate the hook in the esophagus, and then the esophagus was inverted until Dr. Cavin was able to remove the hook. The hook that was in the stomach was found using the endoscope as well. The esophagus was inverted a little bit more until Dr. Cavin was able to use forceps to pull the hook from the stomach. Luckily, that hook was only connected to a shrimp shell, and there were no complications in removing it! Ucee took a few hours to recover from the anesthesia, so she was placed on a dry foam bed to recover overnight. Ucee will not be offered food for at least a week to allow the esophagus and throat to heal. In the meantime, he will receive vitamins and fluids to supplement his nutrition as well as antibiotics to fight infection.
June 11, 2017: Ucee was placed in shallow water in the morning to assess his swimming abilities and watch for any complications from surgery. Like many Kemp’s ridleys, he was instantly active in the tank, and staff was able to raise the water level to a full tank later that day.
July 3, 2017: Since his admit, Ucee has taken well to his new surroundings. Ucee underwent a set of contrast radiographs to look for any leaks in the esophageal incision. Fortunately, all was well and staff was able to start Ucee on a diet of fish. Ucee eats everything staff offer him and is defecating regularly. The incision site on the neck is already healing up well!
July 15, 2017: Ucee’s incision site is all healed up and the stitches have been removed. Ucee is eating great and very active!
August 1, 2017: Ucee will be tagged and have blood drawn next week to be evaluated for release. To become medically cleared for release, the blood values of the patient must be top notch, and the patient must be at a healthy weight and in good body condition. SCDNR will come and tag the patient following medical clearance. This process can take up to a month to complete!
August 15, 2017: Ucee has been tagged for release, but his blood values did not come back as expected. Therefore, he is being assessed for any complications that may have caused the blood values to be a little off. He will stay at the Sea Turtle Care Center for a few more weeks.
September 15, 2017: Ucee has been doing very well. We are going to start the process to evaluate Ucee for release!