Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)
Stranding Location: Morris Island Lighthouse, Folly Beach, SC
Arrival Date: 08/05/2015
Weight: 2.68 kg (~6 lb.)
This young Kemp’s ridley was caught on hook-and-line by a fisherman near the Morris Island Lighthouse. The turtle swallowed the large hook and, thus, was in need of medical attention to safely remove it from the throat prior to being released. Luckily, the fisherman left a length of line safely protruding from the turtle’s mouth to aid our team in manipulating and removing the hook. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources was contacted so this critically endangered sea turtle could be transported to the Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital.
Upon arrival, our team transferred this little turtle we’ve named “Laddy” to our medical facility for an x-ray in order to visualize the hook in the turtle’s throat. Unfortunately, the fishing hook turned out to be massive (designed for catching sharks), and the proximity of the hook to the turtle’s trachea mandated surgery for safe removal. After sedating Laddy and making an incision along the bottom of the throat, we discovered that wire cutters were completely ineffective in removing the hook’s barb; our veterinarian had to resort to using a sterilized Dremel for the procedure. The surgery went smoothly and Laddy was given supportive care during recovery. On a good note, our team was excited to discover that, with the exception of the hook, this animal was in relatively good health!
12 August 2015: Laddy is recovering nicely from surgery. However, since we are completely out of tank space, this little ridley is happily swimming in a container we normally utilize to transport our large loggerheads! Laddy is beginning to eat small pieces of fish, has a great appetite, and is passing moon snails and other natural prey items ingested prior to being caught. Prognosis is good and recovery time should be minimal.
September 16, 2015
Isle of Palms County Park