Loggerhead (Caretta caretta)
Stranding Location: Kiawah Island, SC
Arrival Date: 09/02/08
Age: Adult Female
Weight: 94 kg (205 pounds)
On an early Sunday morning, J.K. Rowling was found stranded on Kiawah Island. She was very lethargic and covered with lots of barnacles, oysters, algae, sea whips and skeleton shrimp. Knowing this turtle was sick, Kiawah Island Turtle Team leader Lynne Sager quickly contacted South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). Emma Schultz of SCDNR picked up and transported this debilitated turtle for treatment at the South Carolina Aquarium.
J.K. Rowling was in rough body condition. She was thin, lethargic and covered in a heavy epibiota load. Based on her size, Sea Turtle Care Center (STCC) staff were pretty certain she was an adult female, and a measurement of her top shell confirmed it. She also had a flipper tag on her right front flipper, and she had a P.I.T tag which is really unique – not many of our patients are previously tagged. J.K. Rowling’s heart rate was very low, and her blood work indicated that she was anemic, or had a low red blood cell count. Our admitting staff administered fluids under the skin to help rehydrate her, along with Hetastarch. Hetastarch helps the circulatory system work more efficiently by keeping fluids in the vascular space. She was also started on antibiotics to help combat any new or existing infection present in her body. After fluids were administered, she was moved into a shallow water tank and left to rest comfortably overnight.
September 6, 2018: J.K. Rowling has been responding to treatment well and even started eating on her first day with us! She is getting stronger but is still in a shallow water tank. She received a CT a few days after admit, and everything looked normal. J.K. has been started on a small diet, and has not defecated yet. Once she’s defecating normally, we will start increasing her diets.
October 15, 2018: We are so happy to report, that since our last update, J.K. has improved significantly! She is now at a full tank and eating like a champion! We pulled her this week for a weight, measurement and vet check – everything is looking good. Now she just needs several months of supportive care, nutritious food, excellent water quality and time. We are hopeful she will make a full recovery and be ready for release come spring of 2019!
November 1, 2018: J.K. Rowling is responding well to treatment. She is now on a weighted diet, which is being slowly increased, and is finally poopin’ up a storm! When a patient starts to defecate normally, that means they are able to pass the food we are feeding them. J.K. is in a tank with shallow water but we are slowly increasing the depth as she gets stronger.
November 15, 2018: J.K. Rowling was pulled for a weight and physical exam this week and is improving overall. Though she’s maintaining weight, and is getting stronger, she still feels soft on the bone of her carapace, so she’s going to need more time to recover. J.K is one of our messier turtles, and keeps our staff and volunteers busy cleaning her tank.
December 1, 2018: J.K. Rowling is on the up and up and recovering from debilitated turtle syndrome. We increased her diet and she’s receiving over 7 pounds of food a day! She needs all this extra nutrition to help gain weight and get stronger. We closely monitor her weight to make sure she is not gaining weight too quickly.