Green (Chelonia mydas)
Stranding Location: Folly Beach, SC
Arrival Date: 4/12/23
Weight: 3.98 kg (8.7 lbs)
Mozzarella, a juvenile green sea turtle, was found floating and unable to dive in Folly Creek by our friends at Charleston Outdoor Adventures. They reported the stranding, and South Carolina Department of Natural Resources staff members, Jeff Schwenter and Meredith Bean, responded to transport the turtle to the Sea Turtle Care Center™ for treatment.
Mozzarella was alert and responsive during the admit process. They received all of our standard treatments for a new patient: heart rate check, radiographs, blood work, full physical exam, photographs and measurements. Though they were in decent body condition, we discovered that they have a severe case of pneumonia. Mozzarella was placed on multiple antibiotics and on a schedule to monitor changes in their lungs through diagnostic imaging. We attempted to place Mozzarella in shallow water in a kiddie pool but after watching them, we decided we did not feel comfortable leaving them in water overnight and decided to wet dock them.
April 15, 2023: Mozzarella is now in a shallow tank of water! They have shown us that they are strong enough to handle it. They are still floaty and having a hard time diving, so the tank water level is being kept low. The buoyancy issues appear to be a result of the severe case of pneumonia in their lungs. On a positive note, they immediately started eating like a champ and pooping! The nutrients in their food will help them make strides in their healing process, so we are excited to see them foraging well. We will start increasing the water depth once they can rest comfortably on the bottom.
May 15, 2023: This past month, Mozzarella was still on the floaty side, so we decided it was time to try them in deeper water to see how they would handle it. Turns out they surprised us all! Mozzarella started diving and were level within the water column. We also took another CT scan, and their pneumonia has stayed about the same. Due to this, staff decided to extend their antibiotic injections. With all of that being said, Mozzarella does appear to be brighter and more active — especially with their seagrass or ball enrichment. They are normally seen pushing it around their tank!
June 15, 2023: Mozzarella has had a big month! This little turtle was given a massive new home up in Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery™. They now live in the deepest tank in the Sea Turtle Care Center™. Staff decided to move Mozzarella to a deeper tank to test out their lung capacity. Since this tank is deeper than their previous tank, Mozzarella will need to have an increased lung capacity in order to dive deeper. Staff is concerned about lung capacity due to Mozzarella’s severe case of pneumonia! This is a great test for this turtle to see how they can handle deeper ocean waters. Come check this little one out, they look adorable!
July 15, 2023: Last month, Mozzarella was moved to the largest tank in Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery™ as a form of physical therapy for their lungs, and we are excited to tell everyone that it seems to be helping! Mozzarella came to the Sea Turtle Care Center™ with severe pneumonia which can lead to scar tissue developing in the lungs and often results in buoyancy problems. Placing Mozzarella in a large tank encourages this little turtle to dive deeper and exercise a bit more, which helps to break up some of that scar tissue in the lungs! As you can see in the update photo, we are encouraging Mozzarella to swim deeper in the water column with the help of enrichment! We change enrichment every week to keep things interesting for the turtles, and Mozzarella is always a big fan of checking it out. This adorable turtle is currently loving swimming through a hula-hoop!
August 15, 2023: This past month Mozzarella has been spending more time closer to the bottom of the tank, which is great news! By spending more time consistently, and levelly, at an increased depth it will help Mozzarella’s lungs expand and contract to help break apart some of the scar tissue. STCC staff is still using enrichment to encourage this behavior, and this month Mozzarella seems particularly interested in seagrass enrichment. Green sea turtles often spend time in seagrass beds in the wild, as it’s a great place to forage, and a great place to rest. Come to Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery to check out Mozzarella, and the enrichment item of the week!
September 15, 2023: Mozzarella is always a star in Recovery! S/he seems to enjoy every new piece of enrichment added to the tank. Mozzarella was also tagged this month and staff is waiting on bloodwork results to determine if s/he is ready to go back to the ocean. Fingers crossed!