Cooper | South Carolina Aquarium


Jun 19


Kemp’s Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)

Stranding Location: Apache Pier, Myrtle Beach, SC
Arrival Date: 5/22/2020
Age: Juvenile
Weight: 3.9 kg (8.5 lb)

Case History

On a sunny South Carolina afternoon, Cooper was caught on hook and line at Apache Pier in Myrtle Beach. The hook appeared to be deep in his throat and the line had been cut short. After being found, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) volunteer transporter and S.C.U.T.E turtle team member, Linda Mataya, drove this turtle over 6 hours round trip to get this hook removed.


Cooper was very active at admit, and without the line visible, it would be impossible to know that he had even swallowed a hook! After his weight, an x-ray was taken to determine the location of the hook. The hook was very large, but not as deep as the fisherman thought at the pier. After blood was pulled, and sedation drugs were given we got to work to remove this hook. The hook was large in size and likely used to hook sharks and larger fish. Dr. Shane tried to cut the hook, but even the strongest cutters he used did not make a dent in this thing. After lots of maneuvering, he was able to get the hook free! Once the hook was out, reversal drugs were given to help wake Cooper up along with fluids and vitamins. He was started on antibiotics to help combat any infection the hook might have caused. Cooper was left to rest comfortably in a padded bin overnight.


May 23, 2020: The morning after admit, Cooper was very active and had a strong heartrate. We got a tank ready for him and tried him out in shallow water. He was immediately comfortable in the water, sometimes turtles can take a few days to get used to their new surroundings. Cooper was not interested in food, but that can be normal especially after a hook removal. We will slowly increase his tank over the next few days and hopefully get him eating.

June 1, 2020: Cooper took about a week to start eating well. We had to give him fluids a few times to keep him hydrated until he started to eat. Cooper is at about half a tank and is overall looking good! We hope his interest in food continues and we will increase his tank water as he starts to feel better.

July 15, 2020: Cooper has continued to do well! We are pulling blood on him soon to begin evaluating him for release.  

August 15, 2020: Cooper was released on August 5 at Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge! 

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