Green (Chelonia mydas)
Stranding Location: Folly Beach
Arrival Date: 4/15/23
Weight: 2.83 kg (6.2 lbs)
This small, juvenile green turtle stranded on Folly Beach late in the evening on April 14. Folly Beach Turtle Watch permit holder, Dave Miller, responded and kept the turtle safe until they could be transported to the Sea Turtle Care Center™ for treatment by South Carolina Department of Natural Resources permitted transporter, Cindy Lockhart.
Goat immediately stole hearts with their “crusty” little self. Goat was lethargic, underweight, and about 90% of their body was covered in epibiota. They had ton of pluff mud, algae, and barnacles, including gooseneck barnacles! (We mostly see these offshore. Staff tend to geek out about turtles with interesting epibiota!) Goat looked like the Grinch with algae dangling off of their flipper tips. Bloodwork showed they were dehydrated and had low levels of glucose, red blood cells and protein levels. They were immediately started on dextrose (sugar), antibiotics, vitamins and fluids. Based on their lethargic demeanor and blood work results, we decided it would be best to wet dock them overnight.
April 15, 2023: Goat spent a few days in a wet dock since they were so quiet. However, after a couple of days, we tried them in a shallow kiddie pool and they did surprisingly well! This turtle is slightly confusing because we are getting conflicting blood work results. We are continuing to monitor them closely, but their demeanor has become much brighter! They have been started on daily freshwater dips in order to help remove some of the barnacles embedded in the skin — this will help them fall off more easily. Goat has even been promoted to a shallow tank of water and are eating a small amount! This is surprising because their CT scan shows they are VERY constipated. In order to help things along, we gave them an enema. Hopefully we see things start to move along in the next few days!
May 15, 2023: Goat has become much more active over the past month! The prescribed freshwater dips worked wonders, and this turtle no longer looks like the Grinch! Jokes aside, those dips helped us rid Goat of their embedded barnacle load. As this patient became more active, we even graduated Goat to a full tank and a weighted diet! As we mentioned previously, this turtle came into the Sea Turtle Care Center very constipated. We gave them fluids and weekly enemas, in addition to a stool softener that we stuffed in their fish pieces, and we are happy to announce that Goat has finally pooped after four long weeks!
June 15, 2023: As excited as we were for Goat to start pooping, we did not love what we saw. After four weeks of constipation, and some help from weekly enemas and stool softeners, Goat started to pass plastic pieces. Sea turtles often eat whatever they can find in the wild, and in the case of Goat that was many small trash pieces. To date, we have found more than thirty pieces of plastic in their fecal samples, in addition to fishing line, rope and the occasional feather. We are very glad that Goat has been able to pass these pieces on their own, without surgical intervention. It has been over five days since we last found plastic, so we are hopeful that they have gotten it all out of their system.
August 15, 2023: Goat was recently tagged! When a turtle is at a healthy weight, all initial aliments and injuries resolved, and exhibits normal and active behavior, we start to determine a future release. In partnership with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, sea turtles are tagged with a PIT tag (a microchip the size of a grain of rice) in the shoulder of the front flipper under the skin. This tag essentially gives the turtle an identity with a unique number with a medical record if they were ever to strand again in the future. All new patients are scanned with a PIT tag scanner in case they have been tagged before. Bloodwork was also taken at this time to reveal if the patient has healthy enough nutritional and blood cell values to be released or if they still need more time in our care. Keep your fingers crossed for Goat!
July 15, 2023: Goat is celebrating Plastic-Free July with us this month! Our patient has not passed any plastics in their fecal for weeks now! Goat’s ferocious appetite and cleared-out GI tract has earned them a tank in Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery™. Please come by and visit this little turtle for a reminder of how important it is to reduce, reuse, recycle and refuse plastics!
August 22, 2023: Goat was released in Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge today! The Refuge is federally protected and pristine, the perfect place for Goat to graze on saltmarsh vegetation and hopefully stay away from harmful plastic! We wish Goat the best of luck!