Green (Chelonia myas)
Stranding Location: Sullivan’s Island, SC
Arrival Date: 2/25/23
Weight: 2.87 kg (6.31 lbs)
On Saturday, February 25, a little juvenile green sea turtle was found stranded on Sullivan’s Island. They were spotted by local resident Erica Chapin who called the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. Permit volunteer Mary Pringle responded to the call and transported the turtle to the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Care Center™ for treatment.
We could tell that Feta needed some time in the Sea Turtle Care Center™, but fortunately they were not in terrible condition. They had a very strong heart rate and were taking great breaths upon arrival. They were also a little chilly with a temperature of 68°F. During their intake exam, it was noted that they had ulcers and sand in both of their eyes. The sand was removed with a gentle flush. After a full examination it was determined that the cause of stranding was a predator attack. When you hear the word predator attack, the mind typically goes to worst-case scenario. Thankfully, that was not the case for Feta. They have a few shallow teeth marks on the plastron and a few marks on the carapace but that’s it! It is likely that Feta was not feeling the best prior to their run in with a shark. Sea turtles are surprisingly fast, and it is not easy for sharks to catch a healthy turtle. Feta already had a heavy load of barnacles, which indicates they have been slow moving for a while.
Based on behavior and bloodwork results, staff gave Feta fluids, vitamins and started them on antibiotics. After all treatments were completed, we decided to see how they would do in a tank. At first, they were rather caudally buoyant, but after about 30 minutes they were able to level out and get down to the bottom of the tank comfortably. It is fairly common for turtles to be buoyant when first placed back in water as they are trying to adjust to a new environment. After observing Feta in their tank for awhile, we felt comfortable leaving them in water overnight.
February 26, 2023: The next morning, Feta was calm and swimming around in their new, temporary home with ease. They were offered a couple pieces of fish and a piece of lettuce. We always start our new patients out on a small diet with gradual increases to allow their GI tract to catch up and start functioning properly — plus, we need to see if they’re even interested in food yet. Turns out Feta was a little curious about their food. They ate one piece of fish and started nibbling on their lettuce. Hopefully their appetite will increase over the next few days as they settle in. Wish Feta luck as they start their healing process here at the Care Center!
March 15, 2023: Feta is making small strides in the Sea Turtle Care Center™. They have started eating their fish but are not a big fan of veggies yet. Due to their heavy epibiont load, some of which are deeply embedded, we have decided to start them on freshwater dips to help safely remove some of the barnacles. Barnacles are saltwater organisms so when they are immersed in freshwater it causes them to loosen their grip and hopefully fall off on their own. Feta will be getting several freshwater dips over the next few weeks! Here’s to hoping the barnacles fall off, and they start eating their veggies soon!
April 15, 2023: Feta has made great strides in the past month at the Sea Turtle Care Center! They are officially done with their freshwater dips, which resulted successfully in the removal of the majority of the barnacles growing on them. Feta is also finished with their course of antibiotics! As for food, they can still be a picky eater, but they continue to eat more veggies every day. Feta has started to eat lettuce, but they leave behind the crunchy stem. Hopefully by next month they’re even better about eating their vegetables!
May 15, 2023: Feta has officially given vegetables their stamp of approval! This past month, Feta has grown to enjoy all of their diet, including the crunchy center portion of their lettuce! This is great news because a healthy, well-balanced diet can really help with a sea turtle’s recovery process. Once turtles are eating their diet consistently, we begin to offer an oral multi-vitamin and calcium. Feta takes the multi-vitamin really well, but they do not love taking their calcium — hopefully they will continue to get better at taking their vitamins!