Coral | South Carolina Aquarium


Jul 24


Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)

Stranding Location: Live Oak Landing in Edisto Beach State Park

Arrival Date: 7/18/2017

Age: Subadult

Weight: 15.7 kg (34.6 pounds)

Case History

This endangered Kemp’s ridley was found offshore near Edisto Island on Tuesday afternoon. The boaters recognized that the turtle was in need of help after seeing it floating at the surface with what appeared to be injuries to her shell. After carefully bringing the turtle on board, it was evident that she was in need of medical attention. south Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) was contacted and arrangements were made to transport the turtle to the Sea Turtle Care Center (STCC). Thanks to volunteer transporter Brad Drawdy and SCDNR employee Kacie Ferguson, Coral quickly made it to the aquarium.


Coral was met after business hours by Dr. Shane Boylan and STCC staff who quickly got to work triaging this injured turtle. The wound was flushed and silver collosate applied before radiographs were taken to determine the severity of the boat strike. Blood was taken and evaluated then vitamins and antibiotics administered. After looking at the radiographs, Dr. Shane determined that further diagnostics were needed to determine if the stomach or gastrointestinal tract were damaged. Coral was added to the list of patients to go offsite to Charleston Veterinary Referral Center to receive a CT scan later that week. After the initial triage was completed, Coral was placed in a tub with foam and saltwater to rest comfortable overnight.


July 21, 2017: Coral will be receiving a CT scan later today to further assess the severity of her boat strike injury. Stay tuned for the results.

August 1, 2017: STCC staff is happy to report that the CT results did not show a perforation of the stomach. This is great news, especially given the location of the boat strike injury and its close proximity to the GI tract. Last week, Coral was moved to her new home up in Recovery! She is being kept in shallow, low salinity water to heal. We will continue to be closely monitoring her with routine physical exams, radiographs and antibiotic injections.

August 15, 2017: Coral continues to float and is unable to dive, even when the water level in her tank is increased. During the day, STCC staff increases the water depth, allowing her to exercise and move around, but decreases it back to a shallow level for overnight. The vet staff is trying to find any underlying issues that may be causing her to float as well as a decrease in appetite. Yesterday, coral received a full work up of radiographs, physical exam, and wound debridement. During this treatment she was tube fed Gastroview, a radiopaque contrast that shows up on x-rays as it moves through the GI tract, and also received an enema of mineral oil to help aid in gut motility. Further diagnostics are still needed and she will be taken offsite with Hank to get a CT scan later this week.

September 15, 2017: Coral is very particular about her fish choice and will only eat skinless salmon. Coral developed pneumonia and has been put on another round of antibiotics. We are starting to increase her water level, and she seems to be tolerating it well and swimming more normally!

October 1, 2017: Coral appears to be responding well to treatment and is now routinely resting on the bottom of her tank. She was recently moved into one of a larger 1,000 gallon tank where we are increasing her water depth. She continues to prefer the skinless salmon, but rarely turns down a delectable blue crab. It will still be a fairly long road to recovery for Coral, but we are happy to see her improving.

November 1, 2017: Coral has been doing pretty phenomenally the past few weeks! Coral is eating and behaving like a normal sea turtle should, and her boat strike injury is almost completely healed. She will be under our care through the winter months to give her more time to gain weight and allow her space for the boat strike fracture to fully heal.

November 15, 2017: Coral continues to improve and has been eating more than just salmon! (We won’t say she likes mackerel- she just tolerates it.) Coral got a visit from her rescuers who were so happy to see how well she was doing compared to how they found her. We will continue to give her the space and time to heal through the winter.

December 1, 2017: Coral is starting to be a picky eater again and is only eating skinless salmon- so we are back to square one there. However, Coral received a physical exam and weight check last week and she has gained a little over 6 pounds since her last weight! Coral’s boat strike wound is still very soft, and we are giving her time for a protective layer of keratin to form over it. Way to go, Coral!

December 15, 2017: Coral continues to do well and we are just giving her time for the boat strike to heal.

January 15, 2018: Coral continues to be a picky eater, but is otherwise doing great! We are continuing to give her time to allow her boat-strike wound to completely heal.

February 1, 2018: We have adjusted Coral’s feeding schedule, and she is eating like a champ! Coral was pulled for a weight, measurement and physical exam. Thankfully, her boat strike fracture is looking better but still has a little while to go before it is completely healed.

February 15, 2018: Coral continues to eat better on her new feeding schedule! Her boat strike injury is still healing, and overall she’s doing great!

March 1, 2018: Coral was pulled for a weight and measurement last week, and overall her boat strike fracture looked great. However, there was an area of concern along her marginal scutes so she was pulled again this week for radiographs by our vet staff. Dr. Boylan did blood work and debrided a small portion of tissue from an area of her boat-strike fracture that needed a little extra TLC. Though Coral’s blood work has significantly improved and she is in great body condition, she still needs more time for her fracture site to finish healing.

March 15, 2018: Coral continues to do well and her carapace fracture is coming along nicely!

April 15, 2018: Coral was moved into our exercise tank and is being exercised throughout the week. She is also being pulled for tagging and a pre-release exam along with 4 other patients next week. We are so proud of the progress this patient has made!

Release Date

May 10, 2018

Release Location

Isle of Palms County Park

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