Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas)
Stranding Location: Kiawah Island, South Carolina
Arrival Date: 3/20/2022
Weight: 3.82 kg (8 lbs)
Aries was found stranded on the beach by a tourist visiting Kiawah Island, South Carolina. Aries had a large epibiota load on their shell and was very lethargic. South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) permit holder, Cindy Lockhart, was dispatched to respond to the stranding call and SCDNR technician, Meredith Bean, was able to transport this little green to the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Care Center™ for treatment.
Upon arrival to the Care Center, Aries was very quiet and not taking good breaths. Admitting staff quickly took a weight, heart rate and cloacal body temperature. While Aries had a normal heart rate, the heart beats sounded elongated which means the heart was working too hard to contract. Based on their low body temp, Aries’ cause of stranding was determined to be cold stunning. Upon arrival, staff pulled blood to check Aries’ blood chemistries to better evaluate what else may be going on internally. Aries’ bloodwork indicated both dehydration and a low blood sugar level. In order to help correct some of these issues, staff administered fluids with vitamins to help rehydrate Aries, as well as fluids with a small amount of dextrose (sugar) to help increase their blood sugar level. Hetastarch, a medicine that helps draw fluids into the circulatory system more effectively, ultimately helping the heart function better, was also administered intravenously. A few minutes after the Hetastarch was given, Aries’ heart beat sounded more regular and their heart rate had slightly improved. Aries received both x-rays and CT scans. Diagnostic imaging showed that their lungs looked clear of infection, and there were no other injuries noted. Aries was started on a course of antibiotics to help prevent any secondary infections. Our vet team also found that both of their eyes were ulcerated and they would need to be treated with antibiotic ophthalmic drops for the next several days. After being carefully monitored by staff for the next few hours, Aries was placed in a foam-padded bin to rest for the rest of the night.
The following morning, Aries was alert but very quiet. Staff checked their heart rate and it was much lower than the night before. Blood was pulled again and their results indicated that while Aries blood sugar level stabilized, their oxygen/CO2 levels were not where they should be. It was determined that they needed to be intubated. Staff used an Ambu bag to breathe for Aries for remainder of the morning. Aries received more hydrating subcutaneous fluid and some emergency drugs to help improve their heart rate and breathing. By midday, Aries was much more alert and able to be extubated. They were then put in a bin with a very shallow amount of water where they improved even more! Staff monitored them throughout the remainder of the day, and they improved so much they were able to be left in the shallow water bin overnight.
March 24, 2022: The following day, Aries’ blood chemistries were rechecked and their values had returned to normal. Aries was then moved into a shallow water tank, and they were able to cruise around the tank with no issues! We offered Aries a small piece of fish and some lettuce, but they were uninterested in food and spent the remainder of the day resting on the bottom of their tank.
April 15, 2022: Over the last few weeks Aries has been promoted to a full tank and a weighted diet! For several days they were getting eye drops to help with an ulceration on the left eye, but now they have been deemed well enough to discontinue the eye drops. Additionally, they only have a few more doses of antibiotics to go. Hopefully Aries will be doing well enough in the next few days to get some enrichment!
June 15, 2022: Aries was moved to Tank 4 in Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery™ this month! Aries is recovering beautifully and enjoying their new, slightly larger tank upstairs. We have begun switching out Aries’ enrichment weekly, and they interact well with all of the options that we give them! This is also very enriching to staff and volunteers’ days as well! Next time you’re at the Aquarium, go say “hey” to Aries in Tank 4.
July 15, 2022: A couple of weeks ago, we pulled Aries from their tank to draw blood. Vet staff wanted to check on how Aries is recovering in the hopes that we can release them this summer. So far, the preliminary results have come back looking good. To be fully evaluated for release, Aries will first need a physical exam by the vet team and will need to be tagged. Overall, Aries is doing well, and their rehab is smooth sailing for now!