loggerhead (Caretta caretta)

Stranding Location: Little River, SC (Intracoastal Waterway)

Arrival Date: 05/27/2011

Age: juvenile

Weight: 32 kg (~70 lb)

Case History

This 26.4 kg loggerhead was rescued from the Intracoastal Waterway near Little River, SC, and transported to the SCA’s turtle hospital by SCDNR on 27 May 2011. Initial examination revealed three fresh boat strike wounds on the carapace and an older injury that resulted in the amputation of most of the left front flipper.

Treatment

This loggerhead’s heart rate was strong at 40 bpm upon arrival. Although the carapace wounds (likely the result of a boat strike) were bleeding initially, this turtle’s PCV was normal at 36%. The left front flipper wound is at least a week old as fibrin is present. Initial treatment included pain meds, fluids, and antibiotics. The carapace wounds were thoroughly flushed, packed with gelfoam (to control bleeding) and SSD (antibiotic topical ointment), and covered with ioban (a surgical drape). Little River does have control over the rear flippers, which is a great sign considering the proximity of the boat strike to the spinal cord.

Updates

20 June 2011: Little River exhibits intermittent buoyancy issues, alternating between easily resting on the bottom of her tank and floating with her right side elevated. Daily wound treatment has stopped, and we are considering options for raising the depressed portion of shell in the deepest wound near her head. This little loggerhead is eating intermittently off tongs, and we are hopeful her condition and attitude will begin to improve.

20 July 2011: River is doing well! She is finally consuming her fish diet eagerly, and her swimming ability has improved. We are hopeful she’ll make a full recovery.

15 September 2011: We are very happy with the healing and keratin growth we’re seeing on River’s three carapace wounds. We applied a couple small pieces of hardware to her deepest carapace fracture today (the strike closest to her head) in an attempt to raise the depressed portion, much like orthodontics alters teeth position with gentle, consistent pressure. River still doesn’t use her rear flippers consistently when swimming, so physical therapy will be initiated in the near future. Regardless, she should be a candidate for release early next year.

12 December 2011: River loves to splash and will purposely splash water on people standing near her tank! Her blood work is excellent, and her flipper wound has healed well. We are still occasionally debriding and flushing her carapace wounds to remove bits of dead bone and sloughing tissue as these extremely deep strikes continue to heal.

Release Date

04/29/2012

Release Location

Isle of Palms County Park, SC

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