Loggerhead (Caretta caretta)
Stranding Location: Folly Beach, South Carolina
Arrival Date: 7/3/2021
Weight: 34.5 (76 lbs)
Citrine was found stranded in Folly Creek on Folly Island by Charleston Outdoor Adventure staff. South Carolina Department of Natural (SCDNR) received multiple calls a few days prior about a loggerhead who was floating and appeared lethargic. Every time they went out to look for this turtle, they were unsuccessful in finding her. Finally, Citrine stranded and was able to be rescued and reported by Charleston Outdoor Adventure staff. They waited with this turtle until SCDNR technician. Cami Duquet, arrived to pick her up and transport her to the Sea Turtle Care Center™ for evaluation.
Upon arrival at the Care Center, Citrine was alert but lethargic and was very underweight for a loggerhead of her size class. Citrine was carefully brought up to the exam room to be evaluated by vet staff. Her intake weight indicated she was extremely underweight and though she had a normal heart rate for a loggerhead, her heart beats sounded elongated, like her heart was working harder than it needed to. We pulled bloodwork and though her in-house blood gases were stable, she was severely anemic with a low blood protein level and very dehydrated indicating debilitated turtle syndrome (DTS). DTS patients have a low red blood cell count indicating anemia; they’re weak, very underweight and must be handled extremely carefully and placed on lots of foam to support them. After bloodwork results were processed, vet staff administered hetastarch, a fluid that acts as albumin in the blood and helps to draw in any fluids that are administered subcutaneously into the vasculature to aid the heart and circulatory system in pumping blood and fluids more efficiently throughout the body. A large volume of fluids were administered subcutaneously (under the skin) along with some vitamins, and she was started on antibiotics. Shortly after her fluids were administered, a heart rate was checked again, and it had dropped to a very low rate. Our vet staff was concerned that she may be starting to crash. So, some emergency drugs were administered to help increase her heart rate and she was closely monitored late into the night. Once she was out of the woods, she was left to rest comfortably in a padded foam bin overnight with staff checking in on her throughout the night.
July 15, 2021: Citrine has been settling into her temporary home over the past few weeks. She is still a very debilitated patient but is getting stronger each week. She is still not at full depth in her tank, but we are slowly increasing it as she grows stronger. We are also slowly increasing her diet to make sure she is able to digest it and is defecating normally; we don’t want to cause gastrointestinal complications by offering her too much food right away. We did get some of her bloodwork back, and her vitamin D level is 0, indicating she has been chronically ill for some time. To help improve her vitamin D level, we are giving her calcium injections and calcium supplements in her diet, as well as offering her fish with a higher vitamin D concentration. Severe DTS cases, such as Citrine’s, can take several months to a year or longer to fully bounce back. Citrine has a long road of recovery ahead of her.
August 15, 2021: Citrine has been moved up into Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery on the first floor. We got an updated weight, measurement and did in house bloodwork to check on her anemia. Though she is behaviorally much brighter, she is still severely anemic so she is now receiving iron injections to help improve her red blood cell count. She will only get a few doses, and we will recheck her bloodwork in several weeks to see if that has helped it improve. She has adjusted to her new, larger tank and is quickly becoming a guest favorite. Come by and check out Citrine next time you visit the Aquarium!
September 15, 2021: Citrine has been doing really well over the past few weeks. Sometime over the next month, we will be rechecking her bloodwork to see if her anemia is improving. We’ll also check her weight and do a physical exam while she’s out of her tank. If you haven’t already, come say hi to Citrine next time you visit the Aquarium!
October 15, 2021: Citrine was pulled for a weight, measurement, physical exam and bloodwork last week. Since admit in July, Citrine has gained around 10 pounds but is still very underweight for her size class. Her bloodwork has improved significantly thanks to the iron injections and good nutrition she is receiving. We increased Citrine’s diet now that we know she is able to fully digest and absorb the nutrition she is receiving; this should help her gain weight at a slow and steady pace. Citrine will likely be in our care for several more months, as DTS patients can take upwards of a year or more to fully recover from the impacts of debilitation.
November 15, 2021: Citrine has been doing great since our last update! We will be pulling her for another weight in the next couple of weeks to check on how much weight she has gained since her diet increase.
January 15, 2022: Citrine has been doing well since our last update! We will be pulling Citrine for a weight, measurement and exam to evaluate how she’s doing overall. In previous exams, her bloodwork improved but her body condition was still poor, so we are hoping to see an improvement in that as well.