loggerhead (Caretta caretta)
Stranding Location: Beachfront at Huntington Beach State Park
Arrival Date: 05/08/2014
Weight: 36 kg
A 36 kg juvenile loggerhead sea turtle was found stranded on the beach at Huntington Beach State Park in Georgetown County on Thursday, May 8. The turtle was delivered during the Aquarium’s annual Environmental Stewardship Awards Gala which makes the third year in a row that a stranding was admitted during this big event! Named Atalaya after Atalaya Castle, a National Historic Landmark at Huntington Beach State Park, the turtle is very debilitated suffering from extremely poor blood work, emaciation, dehydration and intestinal parasites among other things.
Upon admission, diagnostics included blood work analysis, obtaining a heart rate, and full physical examination. Once the etiology was determined, supportive care was given to include a variety of fluids to combat dehydration and hypoglycemia (blood glucose was 4), injections of 2 antibiotics as well as vitamin injections. The turtle was placed in 2” of water overnight because s/he was too lethargic to swim.
14 May 2014: After several days of supportive care, Atalaya began eating small amounts of fish and becoming a little more active. S/he seems a little stronger and is now being kept in 2 feet of water. With each passing day, the prognosis for this young turtle gets better!
1 June 2014: Despite being deathly ill when s/he stranded, Atalaya has had a great appetite since we first started offering food the day after admission. S/he is now consuming 1.5% of her body weight in fish daily and has gained nearly 2 kg. When we first raised the water level in Atalaya’s tank on May 24th, this juvenile loggerhead would rest her entire body on the PVC backscratcher near the surface of her tank so she didn’t have to expend a lot of energy to breathe. Her strength is beginning to return, however, and she is now swimming well and primarily resting on the bottom of her tank.
3 June 2014: Almost a month after stranding, Atalaya is finally out of critical care and improving daily. She is now swimming in a full tank of water and vivaciously eating a pound of food each day! Although she is out of critical care, she still has a long road of recovery ahead. S/he is still on 2 antibiotics to rid any infections present and calcium gluconate to help strengthen his/her carapace (shell).The average stay for a debilitated sea turtle 7-9 months, this time is essential for a slow healthy weight gain and improvements with blood values to a releasable level.