Stranding Location: Myrtle Beach, SC
Arrival Date: 09/15/2014
Weight: 60.5 kg (133 pounds)
A Myrtle Beach city employee found this debilitated loggerhead about 5am at 53rd Avenue N front beach. The crew used a backhoe (it was initially reported as a bulldozer, hence the name Dozer) to pick up the large sea turtle. The tractor, a gentle giant when run by an operator who knows it well, did a great job bringing the turtle to the truck bed of permit holder Ann Malys Wilson, where she and other turtle ladies protected the sick animal from downpours while they waited for the SCDNR transport vehicle coming from Charleston. SCDNR Biologist Jenna arrived and transported the turtle back to the South Carolina Aquarium where members of the Sea Turtle Rescue Team were ready for the admission.
At admittance, Dozer was very lethargic, had a low heart rate (14 beats per minute), and edema (fluid filled tissues) was evident. In-house blood work revealed that she was both hypoproteinemic (extremely low blood protein of 0.6) and anemic (low level of red blood cells of 11%). The abnormally low blood protein level is especially worrisome and is the primary cause of the edema. Antibiotics, vitamins and a cocktail of intravenous and subcutaneous fluids were administered.
7 October 2014: We analyzed Dozer’s blood in-house today to recheck certain critical parameters, including her total protein level. Unfortunately, while Dozer has gained more than six pounds on the healthy diet we offer her daily, her blood work has not improved much yet. We are continuing various treatments, including calcium injections, as her bones are still very soft, particularly on her carapace-plastron bridge. On a good note, Dozer is very active and loves to eat!
8 April 2015: When it comes to feeding our sea turtle patients in the morning, staff and volunteers enjoy feeding Dozer the most because she eagerly devours every single morsel of food. This feisty loggerhead will eat absolutely every single type of healthy fish we offer, from small freshwater smelt to large pieces of juicy salmon, and she also loves to chase after and consume live blue crabs. Her gluttony has helped her gain 30 lb. since admission last September. If you’ve visited Dozer in the hospital and witnessed her swimming and splashing in her tank, it’s clear that she’s fully regained her health and vigor!
Recent blood work confirms that this big loggerhead is ready to return to the wild. One of the most impressive transformations in her internal health is shown by her blood protein level, which has increased from a near-fatal level of 0.6 g/dL at admission to a robust 5.0 g/dL! We are happy to report that Dozer and fellow loggerhead patient Lazarus will be returned to the wild this Friday, April 10. Since coastal waters are still too cold for loggerhead sea turtles, we are unable to invite the public to a beach release as we usually do from May through September each year. However, a generous donor will aid staff in transporting these two reptiles offshore to the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, which is certainly the best option to ensure the post-release survival of these two charismatic sea turtles!