Cassiopeia | South Carolina Aquarium


Jul 28


Loggerhead (Caretta caretta)

Stranding Location: Savage Neck Dunes, Cape Charles, VA
Arrival Date: 6/22/22
Age: Adult (female)
Weight: 94.38 kg (207.64 lbs)

Case History

Cassiopeia (formerly known as Hacksaw) cold stunned and stranded on November 13, 2021 on the shores of Savage Neck Dunes in Cape Charles Virginia. Mr. John Barney made the call to the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program to report the animal, and their team of rescuers instructed Mr. Barney to shade the animal to prevent her from heating up too quickly while the team was en route. Upon arrival, the rescuers made their way out to the beach only to discover that their beach transport cart was unable to get to the animal due to large, twisted trees blocking the way. It was an all-hands-on-deck situation, as the rescuers lifted this 207-pound loggerhead and carried her down the beach. Cassiopeia was safely moved into the van where emergency drugs were administered during transport to the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center Darden Marine Animal Conservation Center. Mr. Barney, Mr. Steven Kidwell and numerous others on the beach that day were instrumental to the success of Cassiopeia’s rescue.

Six months after admit, Cassiopeia was still in rehabilitation and her pneumonia wasn’t resolving. Due to the Darden Marine Animal Conservation Center’s constant influx of new patients, the Virginia Aquarium reached out to the South Carolina Aquarium and asked if the Sea Turtle Care Center™ could help with the remainder of Cassiopeia’s journey to recovery. On June 22, 2022, the Sea Turtle Care Center™ and the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program met each other halfway between the two facilities to transfer Cassiopeia to the Care Center. It was a long day of driving for all involved, but the team arrived safely back at the South Carolina Aquarium around 5 p.m. Cassiopeia was moved into her new tank and left to rest overnight following some observation time.

To follow the 2022 naming theme of “Constellations and Planets,” the Sea Turtle Care Center chose to change Hacksaw’s name to Cassiopeia.


Virginia Aquarium veterinarian, Dr. Ally McNaughton, and South Carolina Aquarium veterinarians, Dr. Jamie Torres and Dr. Lauren Michaels, worked together to form a treatment plan for Cassiopeia. During her first week at the Care Center, Cassiopeia was left alone and fed her normal diet to allow her time to destress and acclimate before we examined her. Once some time had passed, we pulled Cassiopeia from her tank and did a CT scan to get high-detail images of her lungs since the pneumonia was her persistent problem. Her lungs did not look particularly clear which could be a sign of active infection or leftover scar tissue from healed infection. Our vets chose to change Cassiopeia’s antibiotic medication to hopefully attack any active infection left in her lungs, then scheduled a CT scan to track her progress.


July 15, 2022: Cassiopeia has been doing well since her admit. She was a little picky about the food we offered initially, but this is common as new patients acclimate to their new surrounds and food items. She now eats really well! She is a beast, but a cutie. Even though she is feisty at first, she quickly calms down and lets us give her the injections she needs. We will be allowing Cassiopeia time to heal now her new antibiotic rounds have finished. As planned, we will re-evaluate her lungs with a follow-up CT scan in August.

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