Green (Chelonia mydas)
Stranding Location: Hilton Head Island, SC
Arrival Date: 8/9/2023
Weight: 3.07 kg (6.75 lbs)
On August 9, a local resident spotted a juvenile green sea turtle stranded on Hilton Head Island in the pluff mud. The resident reported the turtle to South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), and Hilton Head Island Sea Turtle Patrol Team members responded. Thanks to the collaborative efforts from the community, this sick sea turtle was able to safely make it to the South Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Care Center ™. This resilient sea turtle was given the name Java in honor of Charleston Coffee Roasters, lead sponsor of the Nutritional Care Program at the South Carolina Aquarium. This program is central to our animal care and provides sustainably sourced restaurant-quality nutrition to our animals, including patients in the Care Center.
Java arrived to the Care Center with decent energy levels, a strong heart rate, and s/he was taking decent breaths. During the turtle’s examination it was noted that s/he had a heavy barnacle load, a few lesions and appeared to be underweight. Java had strong jaw tone, meaning it was difficult to get a good look in her/his mouth. We unexpectedly found a rusty fish hook in the mouth. A radiograph was taken, and the patient was sedated in order to accomplish a safe hook removal attempt. Thankfully it was a fairly quick and easy hook removal! Unfortunately, there appears to be a lot of trauma to the mouth from this fish hook.
Since Java was already sedated, staff decided to conduct a CT scan. This diagnostic imaging showed that Java has a very full GI tract and a slight case of pneumonia. Due to all of our findings from imaging and bloodwork it was decided to start her/him on antibiotics, fluids, and calcium injections. After all medical treatments and assessments were completed, Java’s energy levels were strong and staff felt comfortable placing her/him in a tank of water. Those instincts were right because Java was swimming levelly, taking great breaths and even defecated!
September 15, 2023: After a few days in the hospital, Java’s energy levels declined significantly. Staff acted quickly, providing fluid therapy and additional antibiotics. Sea turtles tend to do better in water than they do out, so staff decided to place Java in a kiddie pool inside of the tank. This allowed for Java to be in shallow enough water that s/he did not need to use much energy to breath. After a few days in the kiddie pool, Java’s energy levels increased enough to be promoted back to a full tank. Since then, Java has progressed even more and is now in Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery ™. Come check Java out in tank number 1! This patient still has a long way to go, but we are happy with Java’s progress thus far!