Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas)
Stranding Location: Hog Inlet, North Myrtle Beach, SC
Arrival Date: 4/18/2019
Weight: 7.28 kg (16 lbs)
Chloe West, Chris Irvine, Dawson West, Elyyn Irvine and Joyce Hill were visiting the Cherry Grove beachfront on a beautiful Thursday when Chloe, an animal lover, decided to explore the beach during low tide. She came across a small green sea turtle stranded on the beach and immediately called for help. Her aunt Joyce, who is a South Carolina resident, knew there were regulations regarding the movement of sea turtles so a call was quickly made to the state park officials, and they were transferred to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) stranding hotline. The SCDNR staff told the family to move the turtle into the shade until their transporters could arrive. Chloe, the animal lover mentioned above, jumped at the chance to help out this little turtle and picked him up to move him to the shade, and then to a shallow tidal pool where they waited about 30 minutes for transporters Linda Mataya and Sally Scott to arrive. This lucky little guy was then brought to the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Care Center.“ Care Center staff named him Aardvark after our friends at Aardvark Straws, who donate 15% of sales from their paper sea turtle straw sales to the Sea Turtle Care Center.
Upon arrival, staff at the Sea Turtle Care Center noted that Aardvark had a very heavy epibiont load. Epibionts are organisms that live on the surface of other organisms or objects. Aardvark had a large amount of tube worms, algae, large and small barnacles, and sand packed onto his carapace. After a quick bath to remove the majority of the epibionts, we weighed him to get an accurate reading. We then drew blood and administered IV fluids. The bloodwork showed us he was dehydrated and had low blood sugar. His physical exam revealed that while he was in good body condition, meaning he was not skinny, the scutes on his carapace and head were malformed. This could be due to an infection. There didn’t seem to be any apparent cause of stranding. We administered general antibiotics, fluids, and vitamins and allowed Aardvark to rest in a shallow bin with water overnight.
April 24, 2019: Aardvark has been doing well since he arrived. The day after admit he was placed in a tank and swam around great. He has been regularly defecating ulva (sea lettuce, a natural food item) and a few days after admit, staff found tiny pieces of plastic in his fecal matter. He has started nibbling on the food we are offering him which is a good sign. Vet staff prescribed calcium injections to help with the scute deformities on his head and carapace. Overall, Aardvark is doing well, and we hope to continue to see improvement!
May 4, 2019: Aardvark continues to improve. The scute deformities from a likely infection are starting to heal and nearly all of the epibiota is cleared from his shell. He loves to eat the pieces of fish we offer him daily, but he only nibbles on his veggies. We are keeping our eyes peeled for wild sea lettuce growing in the waters nearby but so far there is nothing. It is not uncommon for it to take awhile for green sea turtles to start eating the store-bought veggies we offer them, so he should get better about it soon!