Stranding Location: Bohicket Marina, Johns Island, SC
Arrival Date: 04/22/2015
Weight: 5.8 kg (~13 lb.)
This juvenile green sea turtle was found floating (positively buoyant) at the Bohicket Marina on Johns Island. The SC Department of Natural Resources transported the sick turtle to the Aquarium for necessary medical treatment. Once on site, x-rays confirmed a large amount of gas in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. We are concerned that this little green sea turtle may be suffering from a GI impaction due to the ingestion of marine debris, such as plastic, as several green sea turtles we’ve treated in the past for flotation issues like this were impacted with plastics. Impactions prevent the movement of matter through the GI tract; gas produced by bacteria that naturally live in the gut isn’t able to escape and, thus, builds up and causes the turtles to float. Only time will tell if this is a plastics-related illness.
Aside from an elevated white blood cell count, the blood work parameters were within normal limits, so it doesn’t appear that the turtle has been sick for very long. We started “Bohicket” on supportive care which includes antibiotic injections, vitamin injections, and fluids. The fluids help to hydrate the turtle and are extremely helpful in moving impactions. It is also important to give fluids with dextrose to keep blood sugar levels normal since we can’t feed turtles with impactions.
27 April 2015: We are thrilled to report that after 5 days of treatment, Bohicket has passed several fecals! Although none of the fecals we’ve examined so far have contained foreign objects like plastics, we will continue to carefully examine everything this turtle passes. On a good note, the buoyancy issues are resolving and Bohicket is a little more active and finally able to dive to the bottom of the tank. We’ve started offering this little green a small amount of romaine lettuce and s/he is nibbling on it, which is a great sign. Hopefully this trend of recovery continues!