loggerhead (Caretta caretta)

Stranding Location: Kiawah Island, SC

Arrival Date: 06/26/2011

Age: juvenile

Weight: 17.8 kg (~39 lb)

Case History

This very small (3.0 kg) loggerhead stranded beachfront on Kiawah Island, SC and was transported by the SC Department of Natural Resources to the Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital for evaluation and treatment. The turtle was extremely lethargic, overweight, and presented with some shell deformities. Bloodwork revealed significant anemia (PCV 11-12%) and low total solids (1.5). Radiographs revealed a severe case of metabolic bone disease. This disease is caused by a very poor diet and lack of UV light, essential components of bone growth and development. All of this information leads staff to believe that this animal was taken into captivity as a hatchling and kept in very poor conditions before it was finally released into the ocean.

Treatment

Initial treatment included fluid therapy, calcium, vitamins, and antibiotics (ceftazadime). Follow-up treatments include daily calcium injections and sunlight exposure to aid in bone regeneration. This turtle is handled as little as possible and with great care, as the bones are fragile and could easily break with the slightest wrong move. S/he is eating assorted calcium-rich fish.

Updates

28 July 2011: Gumby is going to be with us for a long time. Her bloodwork hasn’t improved yet (PCV 11%) even though she is eagerly consuming the salmon and smelt we feed her daily. Gumby still doesn’t (can’t?) swim and simply floats on the surface of her tank. However, she tolerates daily calcium injections well and is a favorite among our tour guests!

7 August 2011: Gumby has been sunned outside for about an hour a day during the past month, and recent blood work revealed that her vitamin D level has improved dramatically. However, her PCV remains low at 13%. Excitingly, Gumby is becoming more active and radiographs show a bit of calcification of the small flipper bones!

15 September 2011: Gumby is swimming and diving like a champ! She is a completely different turtle now compared to last June, and now flaps her flippers and tries to bite us each day when we administer her calcium injection. What an improvement!

12 December 2011: Gumby received a CT scan on December 1st thanks to the Charleston Veterinary Referral Clinic. Excitingly, her bone density has improved dramatically since admission and is now normal for a loggerhead sea turtle. While Gumby’s bones have calcified well, we are concerned about the long-term effects of her metabolic bone disease, as her joint spaces are too large, her humerus does not articulate properly with her pectoral girdle, and the bones of the pectoral girdle are abnormally formed. However, this little turtle is feisty and swims like a champ, and we are hopeful she’ll be a candidate for release one day!

7 June 2012: Gumby continues to impress hospital visitors with his feisty demeanor. He is enjoying the company of his long-time tankmates, a couple of schooling fish, although he wishes he was quick enough to catch them for dinner! This aggressive turtle has grown so much in just the past year, and we are excited to see him becoming more “normal” as his health improves.

Release Date

12/27/2012

Release Location

Boat Release: Off Shore North Carolina

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