Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta)
Stranding Location: Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, McClellanville, SC
Arrival Date: 5/27/2019
Age: Adult Male
Weight: 93.5 kgs (206 pounds)
An injured loggerhead was found by South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) biologist Mary Catherine Martin while she was completing shorebird surveys in Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. The loggerhead was entangled in a crab pot rope and buoy that had wrapped around his neck and left front flipper. The entanglement injury to the left front flipper was severe — the humeral bone was exposed and a majority of the flipper appeared to be necrotic (dead tissue). Mary Catherine called US Fish and Wildlife staff as well as volunteers who were out doing sea turtle nesting surveys to help. They boated to the loggerhead’s location and transported him to Garris Landing. From there, SCDNR volunteers Mary Pringle and Barb Gobien drove him the rest of the way for treatment at the South Carolina Aquarium.
Blue’s left front flipper was in rough shape. The rope and buoy were removed from the flipper so that Dr. Shane and vet staff could better access the injury. Lots of tissue was already dying and a large portion of the humeral bone was exposed; the flipper had been entangled for some time. Blue’s blood was drawn, bloodwork was started and then several radiographs were taken to better access the condition of the flipper. Blue was given a large volume of fluids to help with rehydration, vitamins, and was started on antibiotics. Blue also had a deep laceration on the top portion of his neck were the rope was pulling each time he moved his left front flipper. His neck laceration and entangled flipper were flushed and Medi-Honey, a medical grade honey, was applied to aid in healing. Due to the overall condition of the left front flipper, the best treatment plan for this patient was to amputate it. After triage, Blue was left resting comfortably on a foam waterbed overnight. Blue’s rehabilitation is being sponsored by South Carolina Federal Credit Union.
May 28, 2019: The day after admit, Blue underwent amputation surgery to remove the necrotic entangled flipper. Blue did great through surgery, and recovered slowly through the afternoon. Post op, Blue received more fluids and pain management drugs to help keep him comfortable.
June 1, 2019: The day after his big surgery, Blue was brought down to ICU and placed in a shallow water tank. At first, Blue was lethargic and overall not very active, resting a lot and recouping from the surgery. Over the past few days, Blue has really perked up, is eating and is much more active! Blue is receiving cold laser therapy on his neck and surgical site to help promote a faster healing process. Blue has a long road of recovery ahead of him but has adjusted well to his temporary, new home.
June 15, 2019: In the past two weeks, Blue has gotten stronger and much more active! He’s eating well, but hasn’t really defecated so to help him out, we gave him an enema to move things along. His amputation site is healing up nicely and is starting to fill in with granulation tissue. We are still giving him antibiotics and doing cold laser therapy to speed up the healing process. We are keeping him at a lower water level and a lower salinity to help with wound healing and to prevent him from overusing the healing flipper.
July 1, 2019: Blue finished up his antibiotics and cold laser therapy treatment; his amputated flipper is healing up great! We are continuing to increase his diet, and he is now swimming in a full tank of water! Blue continues to get stronger each week, but due to the nature of his injury it will take a long time for him to fully heal. Way to go, Blue!
July 16, 2019: Blue is looking great up in Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery! We moved him upstairs at the beginning of the month. Due to the constant splashing, the widow has to be cleaned several times a day (this cleaning task is a staff favorite). He is a very picky eater and will only eat mackerel. Blue has become a guest favorite, and we get lots of questions about him during our daily educational Turtle Talks.
August 1, 2019: The dead end of the humerus bone from the amputation site shed a few days ago and is looking great underneath. It is covered with a nice epithelial layer and the tissue around it continues to granulate very well. We are pleased with how quickly Blue is healing. He is eating well and steadily gaining weight.
August 15, 2019: Since our last update, Blue was pulled for a weight check and physical exam. His left front flipper looks amazing and has healed up better than we could have hoped for. There’s still some fibrin over the amputation site, but the bone is no longer exposed and healthy granulation tissue is now covering it. Blue eats about 4 pounds of food daily, and keeps us busy making his tank clean and pristine!