Cancer | South Carolina Aquarium


Jan 12


Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)

Stranding Location: Cape Cod Bay, MA
Arrival Date: 11/27/22
Age: Juvenile
Weight: 2.3 kg (5.0 lbs)

Case History

This turtle is one of many that stranded up in the New England area due to cold stunning, the sea turtle equivalent of hypothermia. New England Aquarium admits hundreds of turtles during the colder winter months; this year, we were able to take in 15 of these turtles to help lighten their load. We coordinate with New England Aquarium and a non-profit called Turtles Fly Too to transport the turtles here. Many thanks to pilot Steve Bernstein and his son Owen for flying them from New England down to Charleston!


Cancer was alert upon admit and had a steady heart rate and respiration rate. Radiographs showed their lungs were slightly under-inflated and showed signs of moderate pneumonia. Cancer also had moderate bruising on the plastron and numerous skin lesions and abrasions, including one on the top of their head and one under the eye. They were so active on the flight that they caused further damage to the claws on their flippers. Their wounds were all cleaned and treated topically, and they were started on antibiotics and fluids. Cancer was active enough to water test and eventually leave in water overnight.


December 15, 2022: Cancer has settled in pretty well and began eating after just a few days. They received follow up radiographs and a CT scan to closer evaluate the pneumonia and an area of density in the lower GI tract. They were started on a second antibiotic for more thorough coverage of these issues and seem to be responding well. Fortunately, they do not have any resulting buoyancy issues and are swimming well in a full tank.

January 15, 2023: Cancer’s most recent diagnostics have shown improvement in their lungs and GI tract. They just finished their last dose of antibiotics and received an exam, including weight and measurement, to assess their progress. They are looking much better and have grown and gained weight.

February 15, 2023: Cancer is continuing to show signs of improvement. They are eating well, gaining weight and have had no further issues with buoyancy from the pneumonia. We’ll continue to monitor their progress and follow up with diagnostic tests to ensure that they make a full recovery before considering for release!

March 15, 2023: With Cancer’s continued improvement, they were able to be moved up to a larger, deeper tank in Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery™. They made the move with some of their former fellow tank mates, and they are all getting along swimmingly! Be sure to stop by and visit them.

April 15, 2023: Surprise! Cancer was released this week in Florida at Little Talbot Island State Park. Water temperatures in South Carolina are still slightly chilly, so we took them and six other turtles down to warmer waters! Wish them good luck!

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