Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas)
Stranding Location: Myrtle Beach, SC
Arrival Date: 05/30/2018
Weight: 2.47 kg (5.4 pounds)
Ginny was found by sea turtle nesting patrol volunteer Larry Williamson as he was walking the beach around 6:30 am. Something caught his eye so he went to investigate. From afar, it looked like a pile of sand covered in shells, but Larry walked over and realized that it was a turtle! Larry is no stranger to finding stranded turtles. He also found Destiny back in 2017. South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) volunteer transporter Linda Mataya responded to the call and transported the little green sea turtle to McClellanville. The turtle was handed off to Isle of Palms SCDNR volunteer transporter Barb Gobien, who picked Ginny up for the final leg of her journey to the South Carolina Aquarium for treatment.
Upon arrival, Ginny was extremely lethargic and minimally responsive. Due to her inactivity, Sea Turtle Care Center (STCC) staff knew they needed to work fast. She had a significant amount of large barnacles on her shell, and one on her beak right next to her nose. Her body condition was very poor so extra care was taken when handling. Ginny’s emaciated state and blood work indicated that she suffered from an affliction called Debilitated Turtle Syndrome (DTS). She was given fluids and vitamins to help rehydrate her, and she was also started on antibiotics. She was left to rest in a bin for the day while staff admitted two more patients- it was a super busy day in the STCC! Ginny’s blood work was marked by poor results and anemia, a symptom we often see with debilitation cases. That evening she spent the night in shallow water. The next morning staff offered 1 piece of fish and 1 piece of lettuce. She nibbled on both – a great sign!
June 2, 2018: Ginny has been doing well this week. She nibbles on food each day and has already defecated a lot of natural seagrass! We are continuing to monitor her carefully as she is still incredibly weak and debilitated.
June 15, 2015: In the last two weeks, Ginny has made significant progress. She started eating really well, and put on a bit of weight! When Ginny was admitted, she was covered in large barnacles on her shell and face. With time in low-salinity water for rehydration, most of the barnacles died. With a little help from staff and a nifty backscratcher in her tank, almost every single one of the barnacles has fallen off! This will be good for her in the long run because her shell was deformed from the barnacle growth in a few places. With the barnacles gone, the keratin on her shell can now grow normally and return to its original beautiful color in the next few months! Way to go, Ginny!
July 1, 2018: Since our last update, Ginny has lost all of her barnacles and has been increased to a full tank of water! When a patient is increased to a full tank of water, that usually means that patient is doing well. They are strong enough to swim around in deeper water and dive down to eat their food. Ginny is a very curious turtle as well. Anytime someone walks over to her tank she immediately starts swimming around and eye-ing the human visiting her. We are all very happy about Ginny’s progress in rehab.
July 15, 2018: Ginny has moved to a new tank and has been doing great. She is gaining weight, eating well and getting all of the vitamins she needs. Staff is also taking her outside for “sun time” a few times each week. Reptiles need UVB light to help them synthesize vitamin D. Sea turtles do not behaviorally bask like other species of reptiles so, even though we have a UVB lamp set up over her tank, we supplement with natural sunlight as often as we can.
August 1, 2018: Ginny was moved to a new tank in Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery! She is now next to her “sibling” Fred Weasley. Ginny is as majestic as ever and there has been some talk about tagging her to begin the release evaluation process soon.Come on by for a visit to see her in her beautiful new home!