Loggerhead (Caretta caretta)
Stranding Location: Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, SC
Arrival Date: 06/01/2018
Weight: 117.62 kg (259 pounds)
Voldemort was rescued by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff and volunteers Jerry Tupacz, Billy Shaw, Gina McQuilken and Joe VeVerka. Jerry and Billy, along with their team of nesting volunteers, had just finished up nesting work out on Cape and Lighthouse Islands when they found a turtle with two crab traps entangled around its left, front flipper. Luckily, this was not their first rodeo, and they were able to get this large loggerhead onto their boat. Jerry knew the turtle needed immediate attention so he called the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. Permit holders, Mary Pringle and Barb Gobien, drove to the boat landing in McClellanville where they met the group of sea turtle nesting staff and volunteers. It was no easy feat getting this nearly 260-pound turtle from the ground to the back of the transport van; they needed six people to move the heavy turtle. While en route to the South Carolina Aquarium, Voldemort was very active, moving around in the back of the van. They made it to the aquarium safely where we had a team ready to wrangle this big guy!
Voldemort was placed in a bin to sedate him prior to his triage. A patient this heavy and this large is also very strong, so sedation was going to be our best option in order to properly and completely triage him. This patient was a whopping 259 pounds and his shell length was nearly 1-meter long! Voldemort also has a long tail, indicating that he is a male. We measured his tale and confirmed that he is, in fact, an adult male loggerhead sea turtle. Adult males are a rarity so close to shore; you will often find them cruising offshore where they spend their entire lives foraging for food and mating. This loggerhead was unlucky enough to come across two different crab pots that he had likely been dragging along with him for 10 -14 days based on the severity of the stricture injuries. Once all of the rope was removed, the wound was cleaned and assessed. The wound is incredibly deep, reaching all the way to the bone, but the good news is there is no damage to the bone itself. Voldemort was placed on two different antibiotics to ward off infection, and staff will monitor the flipper and the wound closely. We will look for signs of healing as well as signs of infection, so we can catch it early and treat right away. For the night, Voldemort was placed in a tank in shallow freshwater to kill the marine leeches he had on his face and body.
June 2nd, 2018: Voldemort was alert and fairly active throughout the day. Staff offered him a piece of fish, but he showed little interested in it. It is not uncommon for a patient to take a day or two to acclimate to their new surroundings before they begin to eat. Thankfully, Voldemort is in good body condition. If he does not begin to eat by the end of next week, he will be started on fluids.