Green (Chelonia mydas)
Stranding Location: Off the coast of James Island
Arrival Date: 8/1/2023
Weight: 3.82 kg (8.4 lbs)
On August 1, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) scientists were off the coast of James Island using a trammel net for fish population surveys when they incidentally caught this juvenile green sea turtle. Seeing the severity of the previous injuries to Asiago’s plastron, this turtle was transported to the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Care Center.
Upon admit, the wounds on this patient’s plastron appeared to be those of a previous boat strike injury. We knew it was not recent, as some of the turtle’s soft tissue was fully healed, the wound was not actively bleeding and there was fibrin growing (the turtle equivalent to human scabs). This patient was taking good breaths, was fairly active and seemed alert. Our team prepared Asiago for a CT scan in order to find out if the wound was open to the body cavity or perforated any internal organs. Staff were pleasantly surprised that neither of those seemed to be the case. Based on the turtle’s behavior, activity level and CT results, our team bandaged the wound and attached a machine called a wound vac. This machine provides what’s called negative pressure therapy treatment. Essentially, it vacuum seals the bandage to the turtle and applies a gentle vacuuming pressure that encourages any blood, pus or various bodily fluids to leave the wound and flow into the bandage. Asiago also received fluids, vitamins, antibiotics, pain medication and eye drops to treat the patient’s eye ulcers. After these treatments, Asiago was placed in a wet dock overnight to ensure that there was not too much pressure on the plastron wounds and that the patient could easily breathe.
August 2, 2023: The following day, Asiago was more alert and active. Following treatments, we placed this lucky turtle in half a tank of water. Staff were closely monitoring, but once again Asiago blew everyone away with his/her strength. This little turtle was swimming easily and levelly through the water column, easily coming to the surface to take breaths and overall was doing swimmingly (pun intended)! That evening, Asiago even pooped! You might not imagine it, but this was a massive relief to staff, as it served as confirmation that the boat strike did not impact GI motility.
September 15, 2023: Asiago was moved up to Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery ™ this month! Everyone can get a great view of the scary, but beautifully healing propeller wound that s/he has on the plastron. Asiago finished up injectable antibiotics, but staff felt more treatment would be beneficial, so we started her/him on oral antibiotics to reduce handling. Normally turtles prefer to eat their oral medications stuffed inside a piece of fish, but Asiago will eat them right off of the bottom!
October 15, 2023: Asiago is o-fish-ally finished with oral antibiotics! This sea turtle patient is continuing to eat well, and even takes vitamins well. Turtles in the Care Center receive calcium supplementation to keep their bones nice and strong. Sea turtles’ spines and ribs are fused to the bones of their carapace (upper shell), which is why calcium is so important for sick and growing sea turtles!
November 15, 2023: Asiago has made some excellent progress this month! This patient came out for a recheck exam with our veterinary care team to look at the boat strike wounds on the plastron. We are happy to report that these wounds are healing beautifully, but they still have a ways to go. Come see how well Asiago has progressed so far!
December 15, 2023: After this month’s recheck exam with vet staff, Asiago’s plastron has made enough progress to allow us to safely offer her/him enrichment items! Asiago has since received a backscratcher and a hula-hoop, and seems to be especially fond of sea grass enrichment. Sea grass enrichment mimics natural seagrass out in the wild and is a great place for green sea turtles to rest. Come check out Asiago in Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery™ to see this patient interacting with enrichment!
January 15, 2024: Asiago continues to impress Care Center staff and guests with how much better the plastron looks when compared to intake photos. While there is still a bit of healing left to go, what was once a deep and open propeller wound is now bridged and filling in. We are all very proud of the progress Asiago has made and often tell this patient’s story at Turtle Talks in Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery™.
February 15, 2024: Asiago’s boat strike injury has been healing beautifully and we are seeing wonderful improvement in overall health. Asiago was tagged earlier this month and we are awaiting bloodwork results to determine if this little green will be cleared for release!
February 26, 2024: Today Asiago made a trip to Florida’s warmer waters and was successfully released at Little Talbot Island State Park along with nine other rehabilitated patients! Wish Asiago the best of luck out in the big blue!