Kemp’s Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)
Stranding Location: Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Arrival Date: 11/29/2021
Weight: 3.2 kg (7.04 lbs)
Gale stranded Brewster, Massachusetts due to cold stunning. They were transported to the New England Aquarium they received fluids, vitamins and antibiotics. After a few days at the New England Aquarium, Turtles Fly Too pilot, Ed Filangeri, and co-pilot, Glenn Knoblach, picked up over 40 sea turtles and flew them to rehabilitation facilities in North Carolina, Georgia and to us at the South Carolina Aquarium. It truly takes a village to rehabilitate sea turtles!
Gale was one of eight sea turtles transported from New England Aquarium for further treatment of cold-stunning. Gale stranded only a few days before transport. Their body temperature was checked after they were loaded into the turtle ambulance, along with their heart rate and breathing. Gale did great during the transport, and their body temperature was in the lower 60s. We made sure to set our exam room to a lower temperature to avoid a drastic rise in body temperature during the admit process. Gale had a normal heart rate — they were quiet but alert during the admit process. Gale received fluids, vitamins, an antibiotic, x-rays, bloodwork and a physical exam by our vet team. Overall, Gale seemed to be in decent shape considering what they endured. Once finished with the admit process, we then left Gale to rest comfortably in a foam-padded bin in the hallway and slowly increased their body temperature so we could move them to a tank in the ICU.
December 12, 2021: Gale has started eating much more consistently since the first few days after they were admitted. When Sea Turtle Care Center staff pulled them for an antibiotic injection, they noticed that they sounded very raspy when they took a breath. Sometimes a raspy noise during a breath can indicate pneumonia, an infection in the lungs, so we decided to do another x-ray and CT scan to better evaluate their lungs. Chronic cold-stunned patients can develop secondary infections, like pneumonia, as a result of cold-stunning, so while this is not uncommon we do want to catch it as quickly as possible to prevent it from becoming more severe. CT scans showed a lung pattern associated with the presence of pneumonia, so they were put on a second antibiotic to help cover all the bases and hopefully get rid of the pneumonia more quickly. We will continue to monitor Gale’s lungs.
January 15, 2022: A few days after resting in a tank, Gale was still not nibbling at food so we took them to the vet staff for a physical exam. It was at this time that we noticed a deep raspy sound every time Gale took a breath. Radiographs confirmed that Gale had developed pneumonia — a common secondary illness associated with cold stunning. Gale was prescribed a second antibiotic to fight the pneumonia and put back in the tank to rest. Gale did start eating a couple of days later and is now eating regularly. Gale had a rough start to their rehab stay, but thankfully we caught the pneumonia early and they should be on track for a full recovery.
February 15, 2022: Upon intake, staff noted a pretty severe case of pneumonia and treated it accordingly. X-rays and a CT scan were taken this past month to evaluate the pneumonia. Not only did the images show the pneumonia is not progressing, but Gale is no longer showing any symptoms which is a good thing! Staff is monitoring Gale closely and taking steps to ensure that the pneumonia clears up.
March 15, 2022: Gale was pulled this week for a CT scan to check on the healing progression of their pneumonia. Staff is evaluating the imaging from the scan to determine if more intervention is needed. This month Gale also received a few fiddler crabs as a form of enrichment; they ate them right up!
April 15, 2022: Gale has had a pretty busy month. Last month we mentioned that Gale’s CT scan was being evaluated to determine how their pneumonia was doing; good news… it has cleared up! Gale’s previous tank mates were released earlier this month, so they got a new tank! Overall, Gale is doing well and hopefully the “wind” blows them a little closer to release in the coming months.
May 15, 2022: Looks like the “wind” blew Gale in the right direction…. we started the evaluation process for release! They received an exam, bloodwork and a PIT tag. Pending bloodwork results, they may be released in the next few weeks!
May 25, 2022: The wind blew Gale back home to the big blue today! They were released at Folly Beach County Park. Wish Gale good luck!