Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)
Stranding Location: Garden City, SC
Arrival Date: 6/16/23
Weight: 1.95 kg (4.3 lbs)
Colby was accidentally caught at the Garden City Fishing Pier. Fortunately, the fishing line was only entangled around their right front flipper, and they were not actually hooked. Once on the pier though, it was obvious that the turtle was thin, dehydrated and had numerous abrasions on the face and body. Permit holders from the Garden City Surfside S.C.U.T.E Turtle Team responded to retrieve Colby for transport to the Sea Turtle Care Center™ for treatment.
During intake, staff ran the usual set of diagnostics to better assess Colby’s condition. This included radiographs to confirm that there were no internal hooks. We often find that sea turtles caught from fishing piers may be repeat offenders and have multiple hooks. We were happy to find that not only was Colby just entangled and not hooked, but they had no previous internal hooks or obvious foreign bodies! They did have a large amount of crab shell material visible in the digestive tract, which was surprising with how thin they are. This may mean that the gut has not been moving for some time and is not properly digesting their food. Colby also had a very low blood glucose level, which indicates they had not eaten for a while. The turtle was given fluids with dextrose and vitamins and started on a course of antibiotics and a topical wound care ointment. Colby was active enough to move to a full hospital tank.
Colby quickly acclimated to the new tank and began defecating crab shell the first day. These were all great signs, and since they did not have any hook wounds in the mouth, we were able to start offering a few pieces of food the next day. This little turtle immediately started eating, and since then has continued to defecate. We have been able to slowly increase Colby’s diet. Energy levels are up, and they are exploring the tank. Here’s to hoping for a speedy recovery for this adorable little Kemp’s!
July 15, 2023: Colby is a feisty little turtle. Once this patient recognizes food, they are off to the races to devour it as quickly as possible, exhibiting excellent foraging behavior! Colby came in with abrasions around the nares (similar to nostrils) of the beak. With topical wound care ointment applied every few days, the wounded area now has healing tissue growing over it quickly. Pretty soon, it’ll look good as new! Colby has a few more antibiotic treatments left, but activity levels and eager appetite are indicators that they are already feeling more like a healthy turtle.
August 15, 2023: Colby is doing very well. This little turtle has quite an appetite and is still a voracious eater! As sea turtles progress in their healing process, one of the things staff begin to do is offer enrichment. One form of enrichment offered is something we call a “fish pop”. We can take the turtle’s diet and freeze it with some water to essentially form a fish popsicle! Colby eats these fish pops with vigor, and they disappear quickly which makes staff chuckle.
September 15, 2023: This month Colby received an exam, bloodwork and was tagged. Staff is waiting on bloodwork results to determine if s/he is ready to go back to the ocean. Fingers crossed!