Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)
Stranding Location: Myrtle Beach State Park, SC
Arrival Date: 6/27/2017
Weight: 1.28 kg (2.8 pounds)
This small juvenile Kemp’s ridley was hooked at the fishing pier in Myrtle Beach State Park. Luckily, Park Ranger Ann Wilson was quick to the scene and called South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. Volunteer SCDNR transporter, Linda Mataya, made the two hour drive to get this tiny turtle down to the Aquarium for medical intervention. If a turtle is hooked from a pier, a dip net should be used to safely lift the turtle up and onto the pier. The line should be cut with several feet of slack and taped on to the shell. SCDNR should then be called to assess the situation.
Violet was admitted to the Sea Turtle Care Center (STCC) Tuesday afternoon, and Dr. Shane Boylan and staff were quick to start the triage process. Radiographs were taken to assess the location of the hook and to look for any additional hooks. Thankfully, the circle hook was embedded in the tongue and not further down in the esophagus. Sedatives were given, the barb was cut and the hook safely removed. With the hook came a big piece of squid, a common type of bait we see with the hooked Kemp’s. Blood was taken and vitamins, fluids and antibiotics were administered. Violet happens to be the second smallest Kemp’s to be admitted to the STCC. Second only to Kenobi, the cold stun from New England that was rehabilitated earlier this year.
June 29, 2017: Violet is doing well. In comparison to her body size, Violet is living the high life in her 1,000 gallon tank down in the Sea Turtle Hospital. She has a lot of energy for such a small turtle! She is still a little wary of her non-squid diet, but we are hopeful she will expand her palate to include salmon and mackerel.
July 15, 2017: Violet is receiving antibiotics and is starting to gain weight! Violet has quickly become a favorite among aquarium staff!
August 1, 2017: Violet moved in with a roommate in the hospital recently. It took her some time to get used to sharing her space, but now she loves it! She’s still very active throughout the day. Violet finished her antibiotics and is continuing to gain weight and eat great! On August 3, she will be pulled for tagging. This doesn’t mean she’s leaving us quite yet, but she is beginning her check list for heading home!
August 15, 2017: Violet is currently packing her bags for her big trip home! On August 3, Violet was tagged for release and had some blood work done to see how her blood values were. She had very stable blood values and was cleared to go back home! She will be taking a trip out to a remote beach access on Isle of Palms for a private release sometime next week. Releasing her off a remote beach access, away from fishermen and boats, will increase her chance of survival. Most Kemp’s ridleys, when released, tend to float at the surface for a little while until they become adjusted to the water. This time of adjustment can increase their risk for boat strike and predation. Violet came in with a fish hook and, since she knows how to get free food from fishermen, it’s likely she’ll try to go back for more of that free food. Releasing her away from the pier can lessen her chances of finding another hook anytime soon. While this is a private release, the whole event will be livestreamed on our Facebook page. Be sure to keep an eye out for Violet’s big day so that you can be a part of it, too!
August 24, 2017
Isle of Palms