Kemp’s Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)
Stranding Location: Seabrook Island, SC
Arrival Date: 9/10/2021
Weight: 3.02 kg (6.6 lbs)
Aventurine was hooked by a fisher in the evening on September 10, 2021. The fisher pulled Aventurine up onto the sand, cut the line and called the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). Permit holder, Josh Shilke, responded to the call and picked up Aventurine from the beach. The fisher and Josh were unable to remove the hook with the tools they had available. The fisher knew the hook was a massive circle hook. The fisher gave Josh a clean version of the hook that they had been using, so our vet staff could refer to it before removing the hook at the Sea Turtle Care Center™. Meredith Bean, SCDNR Technician, transported Aventurine from Seabrook Island to the Care Center, arriving around 8 p.m.
Aventurine was active upon arrival and wasn’t in terrible body condition, besides being a bit on the thin side. Care Center staff took blood, a heart rate, monitored their respiration rate and took radiographs. The hook was pretty deep in Aventurine’s throat and, was so large, we were unsure that removal through the mouth was the best option. Once the bloodwork processed, we saw that Aventurine was stressed and had moderate to severe metabolic acidosis. Due to this result, Aventurine was not a candidate for surgery on the night of their admit. So staff put them into a tank to rest through the weekend until we could do surgery on Monday morning.
September 13, 2021: Yesterday, Aventurine underwent hook removal surgery. It took about two hours from the time the sedation meds went in to when they were reversed after surgery. The hook was very deep and so large that it was quite difficult for Dr. Shane Boylan to remove. Thankfully, it was removed successfully and Aventurine was monitored for 24 hours, alternating between being on a ventilator and staff manually breathing for them. Some patients can take a long time to fully recover from the effects of anesthesia, and Kemp’s ridley sea turtles tend to have a more difficult time with anesthesia recovery. Send good thoughts, prayers, or vibes to Aventurine so that they may make a safe recovery these next few days!
September 15, 2021: Aventurine was on a ventilator with staff checking on them throughout the night. The following morning, Aventurine was extubated but still not breathing on their own without stimulation, so they were reintubated with staff breathing for them using an ambu bag. A little later in the morning, Dr. Shane wanted to try Aventurine in the water to see if that would help wake them up and get them to start breathing on their own. Thankfully, Aventurine started swimming right away and was able to fully recover. A little while later, Aventurine appeared to be tired out. We placed Aventurine in a floating kiddie pool secured to the side of the tank so they could rest in shallow water. Aventurine will likely be spending the next few days resting.
October 15, 2021: Aventurine recently finished their antibiotic treatment and was moved to Tank 5 in Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery. Right before their move, Aventurine’s stitches from their surgery came undone and we needed to re-suture the area. Reptiles have different enzymes in their tissues than mammals, so stitches do not always heal very well. It is not uncommon for the skin to separate from the stitches before the tissue underneath has reconnected and healed over, which leaves the animal with an open wound. Re-suturing quickly and cleanly is incredibly important to prevent infection. Since Aventurine was still getting treatments every three days, we were able to catch the issue quickly and do what we needed to do. Aventurine is now in an ozonated tank and one with a window so staff can keep the water extra clean, as well as monitor the stitches without pulling Aventurine out. Next time you visit, say hey to Aventurine in Tank 5!
November 15, 2021: The sutures on Aventurine’s incision site began to dehisce, or come apart, before the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin, was fully healed. In an effort to correct this and prevent an infection, we sedated this patient and Dr. Lauren had to re-suture the epidermis. We did a weekly check on the incisions and it has healed up! Aventurine has gained some much-needed weight since admit and is back on track!
January 15, 2022: Since our last update, Aventurine has really turned a corner. The suture site was left open the last time the sutures dehisced (opened up) and the area has healed beautifully. Aventurine was pulled from their tank this week for a blood draw and a full physical examination. They have gained weight and grown in size a little bit! We are still looking over the bloodwork to assess how Aventurine is doing internally.
February 15, 2022: Aventurine got a new tank down in the ICU, but don’t worry, they are doing well; the team just needed to work on some tank maintenance. They were pulled for their monthly weight/physical and they look great! After reviewing their last bloodwork, it was determined that Aventurine needs a little more R and R at the Sea Turtle Care Center before heading back home.
March 15, 2022: Aventurine has been doing very well in their new tank located in basement ICU. We are currently re-evaluating Aventurine for release. Last time Aventurine had blood drawn, they were deemed unsuitable for release. In the event that Aventurine is ready for release, they would likely be transported out-of-state where waters are warmer.
April 5, 2022: Good news: Aventurine went back to the big blue today! They were released at Little Talbot Island State Park in Florida due to local water temperatures being too cold.