green (Chelonia mydas)

Stranding Location: Ripley Light Marina, Charleston, SC

Arrival Date: 08/30/2010

Age: juvenile

Weight: 5.48 kg (~12 lb)

Case History

This 3.0 kg green sea turtle was brought in by the SC Department of Natural Resources Monday afternoon with a deep, penetrating wound near the spine. Visual examination of the wound, which was likely caused by a boat propeller, revealed that it’s at least a day old. Surprisingly, blood work values (hematocrit = 26, total solids = 2.2) suggest that the wound did not result in severe hemorrhaging. Ripley seems strong, but we are noticing severe limitations in rear flipper movement and s/he is posteriorly buoyant. Ripley’s prognosis is currently 50:50.

Treatment

Upon arrival, Ripley received subcutaneous fluids and his carapace wound was flushed with copious amounts of saline, dressed with SSD, and protected with ioban (a medical-grade antimicrobial drape). This wound treatment will continue every other day for the time being. Ripley is also receiving pain medication, antibiotic injections, and vitamins. While this little turtle was initially dry-docked during the first 36 hours of treatment, s/he is now swimming in a shallow pool and still seems strong, although severe buoyancy problems are evident.

Updates

12 September 2010: Ripley is showing encouraging signs of improvement. The carapace wound is beginning to heal, and Ripley is eagerly eating a variety of fish daily. Additionally, s/he has passed the gas initially seen in radiographs of her intestine and now demonstrates neutral buoyancy, often resting on the bottom of her filtered tank. However, we did retrieve two pieces of yellow plastic and a white sticker from her fecal matter yesterday. Although we don’t suspect a GI tract impaction, Ripley’s consumption of foreign materials does remind us of the widespread pollution of our oceans and the need to educate tour guests on the importance of minimizing litter and our use of plastics.

25 October 2010: Ripley continues to do well. Recent debridement of the carapace wound (see picture) revealed healthy, healing tissue underneath. While s/he is now being dry-docked every other day to minimize the bacterial load in her wound, all other treatments have been discontinued.

15 January 2011: Ripley is doing well. However, recent bloodwork revealed an elevated AST level, so we are currently working to determine the cause.

7 May 2011: Ripley has thrived in our hospital and is returning to the wild today!

Release Date

05/07/2011

Release Location

Ise of Palms County Park, SC

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