Hickory | South Carolina Aquarium


Jul 11


Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)

Stranding Location: Apache Pier, Myrtle Beach, SC
Arrival Date: 6/21/2020
Age: Juvenile
Weight: 7.9 lbs (3.6 kg)

Case History

Hickory was hooked with a treble hook in the mouth and jaw by a fisherman. The fisherman cut two of the prongs off the treble hook and left the third prong inside of the mouth and jaw. Several Myrtle Beach turtle patrol volunteers and permit holders (Linda Mataya, Chris Beem and Chris Lee) worked together to pick the turtle up from the pier, and transport him down to the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Care Center on Sunday afternoon for treatment.


Once Hickory arrived, staff took x-rays and did a full physical exam and bloodwork. The leftover piece of the hook was easy to access since it was in the tongue, but there were some other injuries on the turtle as well. We lightly sedated Hickory, removed the hook quickly, and then treated his other wounds. The left front flipper has a puncture wound with associated swelling and some bone degradation inside which indicates there is an infection. It is likely that hickory was hooked once before in the flipper, set free, but then continued to go after the bait while the infection took over the elbow joint. Hickory was prescribed antibiotics to fight off infection in the joint as well as any issues associated with the hook in his mouth.


July 1, 2020: Hickory is doing well and settling into his new temporary home. He is eating and continues to defecate regularly. His wounded flipper does not seem to be causing him any issues or pain as he uses it normally while swimming. We will continue to monitor the wound and check bloodwork to make sure he is improving. Just keep swimming, Hickory!

July 15, 2020: Hickory is eating well, but he has developed osteomyelitis (a bone infection) in his injured flipper. He just finished antibiotics, so we are pulling him for a weekly radiograph to monitor how it’s healing. Osteomyelitis is not an uncommon infection for Kempie’s to develop, especially when they have an injury over a joint like Hickory did. Osteomyelitis can take a while to fully heal, so he will be with us for a while. No worries though, Hickory has a great place to heal and get better!

August 15, 2020: Hickory is still doing well, and we will continue to monitor his osteomyelitis monthly.

September 15, 2020: Staff started to notice that Hickory had reduced use of his left, front flipper and that it appeared to be swollen. After taking an x-ray, it was confirmed that Hickory developed a bone infection called osteomyelitis. He received cold laser therapy to help reduce swelling and promote healing. Osteomyelitis can be difficult to eliminate, so Hickory will likely be with us longer than we expected.

October 15, 2020: Hickory has finished up with his antibiotics and cold laser therapy treatment. Staff has seen an overall improvement of the use of the flipper. He will receive x-rays monthly to monitor how the osteomyelitis is progressing. Hickory will likely be with us for a few more months to make sure the bone infection is resolved before he is ready for release.

December 15, 2020: Hickory is still being pulled for monthly x-rays and exams to monitor the bone infection in his front flipper. We are starting to see improvements on the x-rays indicating that the infection may have started to resolve, which is great! Hickory will still need time to fully heal from the bone infection and will be with us a little longer.

February 15, 2021: Hickory was moved up to the first floor in Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery this week. We now have a full house up there! We are still doing monthly x-rays to monitor osteomyelitis in his flipper and his infection seems to be regressing. Be sure to say hello to Hickory next time you visit the Aquarium!  

April 15, 2021: Hickory passed his pre-release exam with flying colors and was released at Little Talbot Island State Park in Jacksonville, Florida. Our local water temperatures are still too chilly for us to release turtles in South Carolina at this time of year.   

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