Loggerhead (Caretta caretta)
Stranding Location: Myrtle Beach, SC
Arrival Date: 6/29/18
Weight: 42.1 kg (93 lbs)
Hermione, a sub-adult loggerhead, was found floating about 30 feet offshore in the surf at Myrtle Beach, near 65th Avenue. After calling the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), beach police waded out to bring the sea turtle onto the sand. Transporter Terry Graham and S.C.U.T.E volunteers Mari Armstrong and Madison Borck loaded up the injured turtle and drove her to the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Care Center (STCC) late Friday night.
Staff came in around 9 pm to begin the triaging process. Hermione has an old, severe predator attack wound on her right front flipper and is completely missing her left rear flipper, likely from the same predator attack. The wounds are old and necrotic, meaning most of the associated tissue is dead and Hermione is likely fighting a severe infection. Staff flushed the wounds really well, as they were covered in sand and other debris. Hermione was placed on fluids, given two different antibiotics and vitamins, and her wounds were treated with topical silver sulfadiazine cream. Silver has antimicrobial properties and is often used to treat wounds and severe burns. Hermione was placed on a wet dock (in a bin with foam and water) overnight to rest.
July 4, 2018: Hermione has been doing okay since admit. She is spending the majority of her day resting and not moving around too much. This is not all that surprising given the severity of her injuries. She is, however, eating very well which is a great sign! Hermione has been prescribed two separate antibiotics to fight the infection and staff have moved her to a tank with great filtration. Keeping Hermione in extremely clean water will help her flippers heal and ward off further infection and tissue necrosis.
July 15, 2018: Hermione has spent the last few weeks resting in her tank. Staff and volunteers do daily water changes and have ozone disinfection set up. This should help keep her tank water clean which will limit the risk of more infection or damage to the tissue. Much of the tissue on her front flipper is dead and has also begun to fall off. We are allowing her body to reject the dead tissue on its own for now in order to keep as much of the flipper as possible. The body will determine where it needs to wall off the damage from the wound and everything beyond that will die and fall off. This happens naturally in the wild and will allow her body to figure out the best way to heal the flipper and wound on its own. We are supplying her with an extremely healthy diet, including vitamins and nutrients, clean water, and strong antibiotics to assist her in this process.
August 1, 2018: In only a month, Hermione has made great strides in the healing process. The tissue on her injured flipper seems to be stabilizing; there is much less loose and dead tissue coming off it. Hermione lost multiple bones from her phalanges as well, but this will not be a problem in her future. The tissue around the major bite location has also stopped sloughing and is beginning to cover with fibrin. These are all good signs of healing! Hermione is very active and feisty, too. Staff have to be very careful when pulling her out of her tank because she is quicker than she looks and likes to try to bite our toes! We are all very happy about Hermione’s progress.
August 15, 2018: Hermione’s wound has continued to make great progress. She received an exam last week by the veterinarian team where they took radiographs and looked at the wound in detail. There are areas where her skin is starting to grow back and the radiographs showed that none of her bones have been majorly affected. We were also able to get a good look at her missing rear flipper. It is completely healed over with fibrin, and skin is starting to grow on it as well. On the husbandry side of things, Hermione is now at full tank depth and is navigating the deeper water very well. She also loves to eat and will chase anything we place in her tank!
September 1, 2018: Hermione has continued to do very well. We have stabilized her diet and continue to watch the healing of her wound through her tank window. Since she is in the long- term recovery portion of her time with us, staff will only pull her out of her tank about once a month to get a weight, measure her and take photos. We are very happy with her progress so far!
October 1, 2018: Hermione continues to do well. She was transferred to a tank on the first floor of the aquarium in Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery to ride out Hurricane Florence. She is back in her original home and continues to keep staff busy by mashing up her food and defecating multiple times a day!
October 15, 2018: Hermione’s flipper is healing so well! It doesn’t look particularly beautiful, but it definitely has some character to it! It is finally covered with pink tissue, which is new and healthy skin growth. You go, Hermione!
November 1, 2018: Hermione is rocking it out in rehab, and her unique-looking flipper continues to heal up nicely.
December 1, 2018: Hermione’s flipper continues to heal up well! She was recently pulled for weight, measurement and a physical exam. Thankfully, she’s gained more weight, however, Hermione is going to hang out with us over the winter to allow more time for her flipper to heal.
December 15, 2018: Hermione was pulled for her monthly weight and measurement this week and she looks amazing! Her flipper is beginning to keratinize and the missing rear flipper is totally healed up. She has been gaining weight steadily since she arrived at the Sea Turtle Care Center.
January 1, 2019: Hermione was moved into the exercise tank in Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery! We made the decision to place her in this tank to help her work on her strength and mobility. She has a damaged front flipper missing rear flipper from the shark attack, so the extra room and ability to exercise are going to be a real plus for her rehabilitation! She has been doing swimmingly in her new tank!
January 15, 2019: Hermione is still cruising along in her tank and loving her new, temporary home. Her front flipper has healed up well, and our vet team is potentially looking at her as a release candidate in the near future. Stay tuned for more updates!
February 1, 2019: Hermione has been doing very well since she was moved into the exercise tank. Most recently, staff biologist Mackenzi Polk has begun exercising Hermione a few times per week. The exercise is great for Hermione to build up her muscle mass and promote use of the injured flipper before we evaluate her for release. She is on her way to being a strong and independent female!
February 15, 2019: Not much has changed for Hermione in the past couple of weeks. She is continuing to eat and defecate regularly, and her flipper wound is healing great. While watching her exercise videos, biologist Mackenzi noticed that Hermione does not use her injured flipper with full range of motion when swimming, however it does not hinder her ability to swim against a current or come to the surface in a deep tank. The exercise tank should help her gain more strength and movement in the flipper over time. We believe Hermione will do great in the wild, and this injury will not hinder her ability to survive!
March 1, 2019: As you know, Hermione has been in the exercise tank for a few months now, so we thought it would be time to take her out and let another patient utilize the tank. Hermione was moved to a tank downstairs. During that move, we weighed and measured her and did a full exam. Everything looked really great, including her flipper, and she gained a whopping 22 pounds during her two month stint in the exercise tank! Her flipper looks amazing and staff was so happy to see how well she is doing. Her transformation has been astounding. Hermione will hopefully be included in the next round of patients that get evaluated for potential release in the next couple of months.
March 15, 2019: Hermione is getting tagged and beginning the evaluation process for release. Stay tuned for more details!