Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)
Stranding Location: Charleston Harbor Shipping Channel, SC
Arrival Date: 03/06/2018
Weight: 2.2 kg (4.84 pounds)
This endangered juvenile Kemp’s ridley was found floating after going through a hopper dredge that is currently operating in the Charleston Harbor Shipping Channel. Luckily, the Army Corps of Engineers spotted her and contacted the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) and arranged to drop this young turtle off via boat to Fort Johnson. Thanks to SCDNR employee Kacie Ferguson, Tonks quickly made it to the aquarium.
Tonks was met after business hours by Dr. Shane Boylan and STCC staff who quickly got to work triaging this injured turtle.Tonks was immediately CT scanned in fear that her lungs could have been damaged by the dredge. Thankfully, her lungs looked to be in good condition. Tonks had several abrasions and contusions from being hit with sand and debris while going through the dredge. Her plastron, carapace, flippers, face and eyes all suffered injuries. Blood was taken and evaluated, then vitamins and antibiotics administered. She kept her eyes closed for most of the triage because of her injuries, but when she did open them Dr. Boylan noticed she had hyphema, blood in the iris or cornea, in the left eye. After the initial triage was completed, Tonks was placed in a tub with foam and saltwater to rest comfortably overnight.
March 10, 2018: Since admit, Tonks has been doing much better. The day after admission, Dr. Boylan was taking a closer look at Tonks’ CT scans and noticed some gas emboli present in the kidneys, indicating that she had decompression sickness (DCS). Decompression sickness, also referred to as the bends, happens when an animal ascends too quickly for their bodies to adapt to the pressure change. Since Tonks went through a dredge she could have been pulled up 50 feet in a matter of seconds. Dr. Boylan rushed to make a pressurized oxygen chamber to assist Tonks in getting rid of some of those gas pockets. After just a few hours of being in the chamber he saw a significant reduction the gas emboli! She is now in a tank with low water down in the basement and appears to be feeling much better.
March 15, 2018: Good news for this little fella! Tonks ate immediately when we offered smelt this week, and he has been defecating. Both are very important milestones for newly admitted patients. Tonks is on antibiotics and his bruising and abrasions on his plastron, chin and flippers are healing, and the hypema in his left eye has also resolved as well.