Emerald | South Carolina Aquarium


Mar 05


Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas)

Stranding Location: North Myrtle Beach, SC
Arrival Date: 3/3/2021
Age: Juvenile
Weight: 5.74 lbs (2.61 kg)

Case History

Emerald was found washed ashore in North Myrtle Beach (NMB) by two NMB Sea Turtle Patrol volunteers, Tim and Denise Lint, while walking on a quiet stretch of beach. Fortunately, they were in the right place at the right time and discovered the cold, lethargic turtle lying just above the tideline. They contacted the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) for assistance, and SCDNR permit holder and transporter, Linda Mataya, responded to transport the turtle to the Sea Turtle Care Center (STCC) that evening for immediate treatment.


Since reptiles are cold blooded and adapt to the temperature around them, with cold stunned turtles it is important not to raise their core body temperature too rapidly. Emerald was therefore transported in a climate-controlled vehicle and admitted to our surgical suite which had been adjusted to a similar temperature setting. This allows a safe and gradual acclimation to prevent further complications. Upon arrival, Emerald was lethargic, but she was responsive and lifting her head to breathe. Apart from the low body temperature, we discovered two minor wounds on the left side of the carapace and a possible ulcer in the left eye. X-rays did not reveal any other obvious injuries or foreign bodies. Emerald was hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) and had a slightly low and irregular heartbeat, which is common in cold-stunned turtles. We administered fluids with dextrose (sugar), vitamins, antibiotics and started eye drops for the corneal ulcer. Emerald was kept in a dry, padded bin overnight in a temperature-controlled room and will be assessed further in the morning to see if she is ready to be water tested.


March 15, 2021: Emerald was critical for the first week or so that he was in our care. She received fluids daily to help rehydrate her and hung out in a floating kiddie pool until she was strong enough to rest in the shallow water. She finally started eating her fish consistently but is still very picky about her lettuce. Once she starts eating and defecating more regularly, we will increase her diet and water level as she gets stronger. Emerald receives an antibiotic injection about twice a week. We are hopeful Emerald will continue to improve.  

April 15, 2021: Emerald is officially done with his antibiotics and is on the up and up! Thankfully, we haven’t seen him pass any more plastic or other foreign bodies. Emerald is eating well really well and is continuing to improve.

May 15, 2021: Emerald has moved on up to Tank 3 on the first floor! We are giving Emerald time to put on weight, but she seems to enjoy her new, temporary home and some of the new enrichment items we built for it. Next time you visit the Aquarium, be sure to stop by to see this gem! 

June 15, 2021: Emerald is continuing to gain weight and improve every day. The two wounds on the left side of her shell are healing well. Emerald is active and full of energy, especially when she‘s playing with the enrichment in her tank.

July 15, 2021: Two weeks ago, on July 15, Emerald received her pre-release exam. We are waiting to hear from out vet staff to see if she passed her final exam, so she can return home!
August 15, 2021: Great news everyone: Emerald was released on August 5! Emerald was released in the salt marsh, along with Amber and Jade, because that’s a great foraging ground for green sea turtles this time of year. Good luck out in the big blue, Emerald!

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