Bruce | South Carolina Aquarium


May 15


Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta caretta)

Stranding Location: Seabrook Island, SC

Arrival Date: 05/3/17

Age: Juvenile

Weight: 48 kg (105.8 pounds)

Case History

Early Wednesday morning, during a nesting survey, Lauryn Gilmer and two other members of the Seabrook Island Turtle Patrol stumbled across a sick and injured loggerhead sea turtle. Noticing that this turtle was in need of medical attention, they called the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). Jenna Cormany, with SCDNR stranding, was quick to transport this turtle to the aquarium.


Upon admission, it was clear that this turtle had been through some tough times. Not only was Bruce suffering from Debilitated Turtle Syndrome (DTS), but he also had an old boat-strike wound to the caudal carapace and a presumed shark bite to the right, front flipper. Due to the necrotic, exposed bone and tissue, we could tell the flipper wound was old. The phalanges (finger bones) of the flipper will most likely have to be amputated because the tip of the limb is no longer viable. Blood was analyzed and vitamins, and fluids and antibiotics were quickly administered. Bruce was placed down in the hospital in a temporary transport bin with a freshwater bed – this will re-hydrate the patient and remove some of the heavy leech burden.


May 5, 2017: Bruce was moved to another tank and has been getting a slow increase in water level and salinity. He took to food well, and his diet is slowly being increased.

May 8, 2017: Dr. Cook came in today to examine several of our patients for cataracts. Bruce has what appears to be an older, small opacity in the right eye. This means Bruce came in with a minor cataract, and has been placed under quarantine. We will continue to monitor the eyes closely for any further development as well as changes in behavior and foraging ability.

May 11, 2017: Bruce is receiving injections of vitamins, calcium and antibiotics every three days in addition to a physical exam. Right now, we are letting Bruce become stronger and healthier before planning a surgery to amputate the flipper.

May 19, 2017: Bruce was very lethargic the first week or so after admission. However, once he was moved into a larger tank he seemed to be rejuvenated and began to perk up! Bruce’s tank’s water level is now raised to full, and he is improving. Bruce is still receiving calcium and antibiotic injections, and we are minimally handling him to reduce stress. Bruce is often observed in his tank’s window during tours and has quickly become a guest favorite.

June 15, 2017: Earlier this week, Bruce was pulled for blood work and an exam of the right, front flipper. Originally, our vet team thought that the flipper would need to be partially amputated. However, the flipper appears to be healing incredibly well and amputation may not be needed. We will continue to monitor the use of that flipper. Overall, Bruce is well on the road to recovery!

July 3, 2017: Bruce’s flipper is continuing to heal. We pulled Bruce out of his tank so our veterinary staff could look at his wound. We are very hopeful he’ll be able to keep the whole flipper! We also spotted some leeches on him so he got a nice freshwater bath for 4 hours before returning to his tank. Since the leeches are salt water organisms, a dip in fresh water killed them off while being perfectly safe for Bruce. Bruce is continuing to gain weight and eating an assortment of fish as well. He’s on the road to recovery.

July 15, 2017: Bruce is continuing to do better each day! He’s gaining weight and continuing to eat very well. He’s quickly gaining the hearts of the volunteers and staff at the hospital!

August 1, 2017: Bruce is continuing his road to recovery! He has such a unique personality, he’s constantly seen bouncing around the bottom of his tank and scratching his injured flipper. By doing this he is naturally debriding himself which promotes healing in the area. His flipper is looking great! Bruce is steadily gaining weight but his ribs are still prominent when he is pulled out for his monthly weights. He’ll be spending a bit more time with us before he heads back home!

August 15, 2017: Earlier this week, Bruce had an eye exam with Dr. Cook, an ophthalmologist out of Mt. Pleasant, SC who specializes in animals. Since Bruce has cataracts, it’s important to know if they have progressed at all during his stay. He would undergo surgery if they had progressed. Luckily, he passed the exam with flying colors! The cataracts haven’t progressed and his playful and splashy behavior has definitely not been impacted by his cataracts. Bruce will continue to recover in the hospital for a little while longer!

September 15, 2017: Bruce is doing great! He was moved up to Recovery to ride out Hurricane Irma in the big exercise tank! He’s currently loving his new home with lots of room to splash everyone and everything. We’re hoping to exercise him before moving him back down to the Hospital. Overall Bruce is still doing wonderfully. He’s eating great, staying active, and his wound looks better every day!

October 1, 2017: Since moving Bruce to our exercise tank in Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery, we have been able to exercise him throughout the week! Bruce still has a ways to go in his rehabilitation but is slowly improving and gaining weight!

October 15, 2017: Bruce’s left front flipper is continuing to heal up nicely! There is less fibrin over the wound and nice healthy granulation tissue underneath it. Bruce is being exercised weekly in the exercise tank he currently resides in. Swing by the aquarium to visit Bruce today!

November 1, 2017: Bruce’s left front flipper is healing well, and overall he’s doing great!

November 15, 2017: Bruce continues to cruise around his tank, and he is eating well! We are learning all about our new exercise tank through his exercise sessions. Bruce’s front flipper is still healing up nicely and hopefully, with more time, he will be ready return back to his ocean home.

December 1, 2017: Bruce continues to love life in Recovery and is still getting exercised in his exercise tank. He’s also maintaining his weight, and his flipper is still on the mend. Come check out Bruce during the holiday season!

December 15, 2017: Bruce’s front flipper is still on the mend, but is healing up well.

January 15, 2018: Bruce continues to do well, and his flipper is looking better than ever. Bruce will receive another check up by our vet staff and will hopefully be a release candidate in the near future.

February 1, 2018: Bruce is being exercised in his exercise tank throughout the week and is doing well.

February 15, 2018: Bruce was pulled for an exam, weight and blood work up this week! Bruce is up to 145 lbs! A stark contrast to when he was admitted in our care last May weighing only 100 lbs! Bruce’s front flipper has healed up incredibly well, and he was one feisty, strong turtle! His blood work has also improved! We are so proud of this little guy!

February 15, 2018: Bruce was pulled for an exam, weight and blood pull this week! Bruce is up to 145 lbs! A stark contrast to when he was admitted in our care last May weighing only 100 lbs! Bruce’s front flipper has healed up incredibly well, and he is becoming one feisty, strong turtle! His blood work has also improved! We are so proud of this little guy!

March 1, 2018: Bruce continues to eat well and is getting plenty of exercise in the exercise tank throughout the week. Hopefully Bruce will be release ready in the next month or two! Way to go, Bruce!

March 15, 2018: Bruce was also tagged for potential pre-release this week! Bruce was also moved down into a basement tank so that another patient, Becky, could be moved into the exercise tank. Bruce’s front flipper has healed up amazingly well, and he is incredibly strong. Hopefully, it won’t be too much longer until Bruce can be returned back to the sea!

April 1, 2018: Bruce is not quite ready for release. We got Bruce’s blood results back, and all of his blood values are on point, expect his vitamin D level. To help improve this, we have placed a UV light over his tank. UV light is key in vitamin D production and should help improve his results.

April 15, 2018: We are waiting to hear back on Bruce’s vitamin D level to see if it has improved enough for him to be medically cleared for release. Stay tuned for updates!

May 15, 2018: We are going to be re-evaluating Bruce’s vitamin D levels in the next few weeks. Fingers crossed all goes well so that Bruce can be a release candidate in the near future!

June 1, 2018: Bruce had his blood drawn a week ago to assess his vitamin D levels. They are still not quite where we want them to be, however, he may still be evaluated for release since he is an otherwise healthy and robust turtle. Stay tuned!

Release Date

June 8, 2018

Release Location

Folly Beach County Park

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