Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas)
Stranding Location: MacKay Creek, Hilton Head Island, SC
Arrival Date: 4/9/2017
Weight: 30 lbs
Pearl was found by a fisherman in MacKay Creek near Hilton Head Island. Pearl's right front flipper was entangled in monofilament line at the base of the limb. It was noticeably swollen, bleeding and lacked a sufficient blood supply. Realizing this turtle was in trouble, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) was notified. Michelle Pate, SCDNR Sea Turtle Coordinator, transported this patient to us for treatment. Pearl is one of the largest greens we have treated as she is nearly 5 times larger than the juvenile greens we have admitted this year.
Upon arrival, Pearl was quickly triaged and received a thorough physical exam, radiographs and blood pull. Due to the lack of blood circulation caused by the constriction of the monofilament line, some of the soft tissue has become necrotic (dead). Pearl’s flipper was flushed, and loose dead tissue and debris were removed. Silver sulfadiazine cream, a silver based antimicrobial ointment, was gently applied. Based on radiographs, the bones in the flipper look healthy and no fractures present. Pearl's body condition and bloodwork looked great, and she received fluids and vitamins for re-hydration. Pearl was started on a course of antibiotics to help prevent any further infection from the entanglement injury as well as pain management drugs. Most likely, a good portion of Pearl's flipper will be lost due to the damage caused by the entanglement, but we will do everything we can to save the healthy part of it.
April 12, 2017: Pearl was moved into a tank in the Sea Turtle Hospital the morning after admit. Pearl has been observed using the right front flipper while swimming and will receive weekly wound treatments to aid in the healing of the flipper. Pain management drugs will be given as needed, and her diet will be increased slowly.
May 5, 2017: Pearl is doing much better overall! Pearl is receiving tramadol, a pain management drug, daily and is currently on 2 different antibiotics to help combat any infection from the injured flipper. Along with all of her meds, Pearl is receiving cold laser therapy, which promotes healing by reducing inflammation while also promoting blood flow to the injured area. Pearl's soft tissue on her flipper is filling in nicely with fibrin, a hard scab material, and we have observed her using the flipper to swim. Pearl also has quite the appetite and is getting fed 1.5 lbs of veggies daily! Pearl is getting stronger every day! Pearl will receive routine physical exams by our vet team to make sure the flipper is healing correctly.
May 19, 2017: Pearl’s right front flipper is healing incredibly well! We have been doing cold laser therapy for the past month and have noticed a significant change in her flipper. Most of the dead tissue is no longer present and the swelling in that flipper has greatly reduced. Pearl has a strong appetite and loves to eat dandelion leaves like spaghetti noodles! Pearl is almost finished with her antibiotics, and we are monitoring her for any change in behavior that might signify the flipper is causing her pain, such as decreased interest in her diet or lethargy. Sea Turtle Care Center staff has been really impressed with how well Pearl is healing.
June 5, 2017: Pearl continues to progress and is healing well. Healthy granulation tissue is present on the flipper and she no longer favors that limb. She continues to have a voracious appetite and will eat any type of veggies offered to her. Pearl is a perfect example of how well sea turtles can heal, especially when given medical assistance, good water quality and time. Staff is very proud to see how far she has come in a relatively short amount of time.
June 15, 2017: Pearl’s right front flipper is healing incredibly well! Each week there is more healthy pink granulation tissue and her use of that flipper continues to improve. Pearl is a good eater and is receiving over a pound of veggies in her daily diet!