Loggerhead (Caretta caretta)
Stranding Location: Charleston Harbor Shipping Channel
Arrival Date: 7/9/2017
Weight: 25.72 kg (56 pounds)
Gurgle was rescued by boaters near the jetties in the Charleston Harbor Shipping Channel, after he was seen floating with a severe boat strike injury to his carapace (top shell). The rescuers delivered him via boat to South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) at Fort Johnson. From there, he was transported by Tyler Harrell to the South Carolina Aquarium for life-saving treatment.
When Sea Turtle Care Center staff saw Gurgle, they immediately knew he was in rough shape. There were four fractures to the carapace caused by the propeller of a boat. The most severe fracture exposed, and collapsed, the left lung. Gurgle also had very limited response of the rear flippers, indicative of a spinal cord injury. After a physical exam by our vet staff team, Gurgle received a blood draw and radiographs (x-rays) to better assess the severity of his injuries. Once stabilized, he also received pain management drugs, fluids for re-hydration, vitamins, and he was started on a course of antibiotics to help fight the infection that was already present in his boat strike wounds. There was a small puncture in his left lung that was sutured. His fractures were flushed thoroughly to remove any debris and subsequently bandaged. After a couple hours of triage, Gurgle was left resting comfortably in a waterbed overnight.
July 18, 2017: Staff has been taking Gurgle’s case day by day. We are trying several different wound treatments with him to help the lung heal. Wound V.A.C (vacuum assisted closure) has been used on his fracture a few hours every day. Wound V.A.C. helps apply negative pressure to wounds and removes any exudates (pus, infectious materials) while also promoting healthy tissue formation through increased blood flow. Gurgle is also on two different antibiotics to help prevent further infection. On a positive note, Gurgle has been eating extremely well which is a good sign! This week he will receive a CT to help our veterinary staff better assess his overall condition. We are going to give Gurgle our all, and hopefully we will see an improvement soon.
July 27, 2017: Despite our best efforts to save this patient, Gurgle began declining over the weekend. The results of a CT scan Gurgle received on Friday revealed the severity of Gurgle’s wounds, including a collapsed lung that was unlikely to be viable again along with injury to several areas along his spine. After the vet staff interpreted the results and we thoroughly discussed the case, we decided the best course of action for Gurgle was euthanasia. Boat strike cases are often some of the most difficult to treat as the injuries sustained can affect the function of multiple systems in a sea turtle’s body.