Loggerhead (Caretta caretta)
Stranding Location: Hilton Head Island, SC
Arrival Date: June 29, 2016
Weight: ~76 pounds
This unresponsive loggerhead was found stranded on the north end of Hilton Head Island near the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa. Hilton Head resident and DNR stranding team member, Amber Keuhn, was called to check out the turtle. She was happy to find it still alive and transported the turtle halfway to Charleston, meeting SCDNR who would transport the turtle the rest of the way.
Westin, named after the Resort, was taken to Animal Medical Facility on the first floor. Staff immediately went to work on stabilizing this minimally responsive loggerhead. Vitals were checked such as heart rate and pupillary reflex and respirations monitored. As is the case with all debilitated turtles we admit, Westin’s blood work revealed low blood glucose, anemia and hypoproteinemia (low blood protein). Supportive care was administered including fluids, vitamins, and antibiotics. Once treated, Westin was finally stable enough to be placed down in the Sea Turtle Hospital. Staff continues to keep a very close eye on him.
1 August 2016: An eye exam with Dr. Anne Cook on Friday confirmed the development of a cataract in his/her right eye. We will continue to monitor it and plan for surgery.
August 17, 2016: Westin will be pulled out of the tank later today for weights and measurements. This a great time for staff to do a thorough physical examination and assess body condition. Overall, Westin is improving fairly well for a debilitated loggerhead and is slowly increasing in weight. A small cataract is present on the left eye and staff is monitoring it closely.
September 13, 2016: Westin has recently been moved to a larger tank in the back of the hospital with the rest of our cataract patients. Right now it does not appear that the cataracts in his/her eyes are progressing, so we will hold off on scheduling cataract surgery for the time being. Due to Westin being underweight, and in order to monitor the eyes, we will be continue to rehabilitate him/her over the winter months.
September 30, 2016: Dr. Anne Cook visited last week in order to look at the eyes of our cataract patients. Westin’s right eye looked clear, but the left eye has a 50% reduction in vision of the lens. Time will tell if Westin will have to have surgery to remove the mineralization of that lens. In the meantime, staff continues to feed Westin a vitamin rich diet of fish at 3.5% of his/her body weight daily.
October 17, 2016: Since the Sea Turtle Hospital is located in the basement of the aquarium, all of our patients had to be relocated to the first and third floor during Hurricane Matthew last week. They were looked after by the Ride Out Team which stayed at the aquarium 24/7 during that time. Westin and the other turtles were moved back down to the hospital on Sunday 10/9, and have slowly been getting back into the swing of things. Westin’s vision seems to be getting progressively worse as s/he appears to be having some difficulty locating food. Staff is now tong feeding Westin pieces of salmon in order to ensure s/he is getting enough to eat.
November 3, 2016: Westin has been eating better on his/her own. S/he was recently moved into a tank with a window and is enjoying exploring the new surroundings! The window allows hospital staff to better examine and observe Westin’s foraging ability, body condition, and overall health.
November 20, 2016: Westin continues to love life in his/her new tank! S/He has quickly become a guest favorite, as s/he is often observed swimming in front of the window! Westin will be pulled for a weigh-in and exam in the next few weeks. Also, Westin’s cataracts have not progressed – s/he is able to forage and locate food normally. We are glad to see Westin making such good progress!
December 15, 2016: We are slowly reincorporating different fish types into Westin’s diet. Westin was pulled for a weight and measurement last month, and he is starting to gain weight and grow!
January 6, 2017: We have been slowly incorporating different fish types into Westin’s diet and, to our surprise, he is eating more than just salmon now! Westin continues to be a more active patient, and is looking healthier each week. However, he still has a few more pounds to gain before he is ready for release.
February 7, 2017: On January 24, Westin was examined by Dr. Boylan and assessed for released. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources also came in and administered metal flipper tags and a PIT tag in preparation for his/her release. After further examination and blood work results, we’ve decided Westin is in need of a little more time here at the hospital. However we are hopeful s/he will be ready in the next month or so!
March 6, 2017: Westin has gained almost 20 lbs since admit and is doing great! We are just waiting to do a CT scan to make sure there are no underlying issues causing his/her rear to float up when resting.