Loggerhead (Caretta caretta)
Stranding Location: Hunting Island State Park, SC
Arrival Date: 6/3/19
Age: Adult female
Weight: 118.6 kgs (260 pounds)
Banzai was spotted stranded on a sand bar at low tide by visitors to Hunting Island State Park. When the visitors approached, they noticed some injuries to her flippers and neck and contacted Hunting Island State Park officials. South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) was contacted and transporters Buddy Lawrence, and Chris Crossley drove this large adult loggerhead to us for treatment.
Upon admit, Banzai’s injuries appeared to be caused by a predator attack, most likely a shark. A portion of her right front flipper was missing, and her remaining three flippers had deep lacerations. The top portion of her neck also sustained some injury, but luckily for this big mama, she got away with minimal injuries. Her blood was drawn for bloodwork, and her wounds were flushed and cleaned. She received an ultrasound to determine if she was nesting this year, and she had lots of developing egg follicles, confirming she was a nesting female. She was mildly dehydrated based on bloodwork, but all other results were good. Banzai received a pain management drug to keep her comfortable overnight and was given fluids, vitamins and was started on antibiotics. Medi-honey, a medical grade honey, was applied to the wounds and she was left resting comfortably on a foam waterbed overnight.
June 9: Banzai has adjusted well to her new home! Over the past week she has begun eating and is receiving injectable antibiotics and cold laser therapy to help speed up the healing process of her wounds. We are slowly increasing the amount of water in her tank, and her diet as well. Her wounds are covered in fibrin, the turtle version of a scab, and are on the mend.
July 1: 2019: Banzai is now in a full tank of water and is getting about 2.5 pounds of fish a day right. We are still giving her antibiotic injections and cold laser therapy, but she is getting feistier each time we pull her — a good sign she’s feeling better. We are still doing ultrasounds every couple of weeks to check on the status of her developing egg follicles. Other than that, Banzai still has a ways to go before her wounds are fully healed.
July 16, 2019: Banzai’s antibiotic injections were extended to help heal the wounds on all of her flippers. Some of the lacerations are still very deep, but they all are making great healing progress. Banzai is eating a good portion of food to help her improve her body condition and heal up those lacerations.
August 1, 2019: Banzai has finished her antibiotic series, and her wounds are healing very well. We were able to do a physical examination, ultrasound and get a weight a few days ago while transporting her upstairs to her new pool in Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery. The exam went well and she is now weighing in at over 278 pounds! Be sure to visit Banzai to see her progress.
August 15, 2019: We spotted a leech on her neck last time Banzai was out for a weight check, so this week we did a freshwater dip to help kill any remaining leeches that might be in areas we can’t see them. Marine leeches are commonly found on sea turtle patients when they arrive but can be difficult to get rid of sometimes. While Banzai was out for her freshwater dip, we did another physical exam, and her wounds continue to improve.
September 1, 2019: Banzai is doing great! Every day her wounds look better and better. She’s got a great appetite and isn’t picky when it comes to her food! In the wild, loggerheads commonly eat crunchy things like blue crabs, horseshoe crabs, shells, etc. While in our care, we feed them a variety of fish packed full of extra vitamins to make sure they’re getting everything they need for a nutritious diet. Right now, Banzai is getting mahi, mackerel, salmon, capelin, smelt, and she loves it all. She’s gradually gaining weight and putting a lot of energy into healing her wounds.
October 1, 2019: Banzai was pulled from her tank last week for a full physical exam. We assessed her shark-bite wounds and weighed and measured her — she looked great! She has gained some weight, her wounds have healed beautifully, and she is as feisty as ever. We also took progress photos, drew blood and tagged her in preparation for a potential release in the coming months. Staff will review the results of her bloodwork in the coming weeks.