Kemp’s Ridley (Lephidocheyls kempii)
Stranding Location: Cape Cod Bay, MA
Arrival Date: 11/27/22
Weight: 2.8 kg (6.16 lbs)
This turtle is one of many that stranded up in the New England area due to cold stunning, the sea turtle equivalent of hypothermia. New England Aquarium admits hundreds of turtles during the colder winter months; this year, we were able to take in 15 of these turtles to help lighten their load. We coordinate with New England Aquarium and a non-profit called Turtles Fly Too to transport the turtles here. Many thanks to pilot Steve Bernstein and his son Owen for flying them from New England down to Charleston!
Aquarius was one of the quieter turtles on admit which caused us to be concerned; respiration rates and heart rate were not very strong initially. However, after a while they became stronger. Their exam showed scabbed lacerations across both eyelids, severe cellulitis, severe frostbite over both rear flippers and many scabby lesions on their head. Diagnostic imaging showed a mild case of pneumonia and thickened bowl loops indicating poor intestinal motility. Overall, Aquarius was in pretty rough shape. Aquarius was started on fluids and antibiotics. After they perked up a little, we were comfortable placing them in a tank for the night. They did very well, so we decided it was safe to leave them in overnight.
December 15, 2022: For the first few days, Aquarius did not show much interest in eating. But after a few days, they did a great job and ate off of the bottom of their tank all on their own! They spend a lot of time sleeping but that is to be expected for a turtle that just came to the Sea Turtle Care Center™. Since they are eating so much better, we have started offering them oral vitamins as well to supplement. Aquarius has a long road ahead of them, so send them all of your healing vibes!
January 15, 2023: Aquarius now has a new home up in Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery™! They have three other tank mates too. Aquarius has finished their antibiotic injections and is looking better. They had an exposed distal digit that we were keeping an eye on but it seems to have healed over well!
February 15, 2023: Aquarius was pulled for their monthly weight and measurement check — they look great! There was a previously exposed digit on the front flipper which is no longer present. This is exactly what we were hoping for! If the digit was still exposed, staff would have to surgically remove it, and surgery is something we would like to avoid if possible. The less invasive we can be, the better!
March 15, 2023: Good news: Aquarius’s exposed digit fell off on its own! Aquarius has been gaining weight and progressing throughout these last couple of months. It’s hopeful that Aquarius will get to go back to the ocean sometime this spring!
April 15, 2023: Surprise! Aquarius was released this week in Florida at Little Talbot Island State Park. Water temperatures in South Carolina are still slightly chilly, so we took them and six other turtles down to warmer waters! Wish them good luck!