Green (Chelonia mydas)
Stranding Location: Buzzards Bay, MA
Arrival Date: 11/27/22
Weight: 2.4 kg (5.28 lbs)
This turtle is one of many that stranded up in the New England area due to cold stunning, the sea turtle equivalent of hypothermia. New England Aquarium admits hundreds of turtles during the colder winter months; this year, we were able to take in 15 of these turtles to help lighten their load. We coordinate with New England Aquarium and a non-profit called Turtles Fly Too to transport the turtles here. Many thanks to pilot Steve Bernstein and his son Owen for flying them from New England down to Charleston!
Jupiter appeared strong at admit with good respiration rates and a strong, steady heart rate. The exam showed us there was an ulcer on their plastron, a potential fracture of the right front flipper tip, a mild case of pneumonia and a lot of fecal material in the colon. They were started on fluids and antibiotics. Based on how they were doing, it was decided to try them in a full tank of water; they did great!
December 15, 2022: Jupiter was uninterested in eating for several days and is still a little finicky about eating. They do not love their veggies but are doing fairly well with their fish. Based on their poor bloodwork results, it was decided to offer a higher protein diet, start them on calcium injections and give them more UV to help boost their vitamin D levels.
January 15, 2023: Jupiter has been an interesting case. Green sea turtles tend to be slightly more energetic than other species, but Jupiter is rather shy. We have covered some of their tank window as they do not like when people walk by. Their bloodwork has also shown to be rather poor, so they are now getting daily UV and oral antibiotics instead of injectables. The less we handle them, the less stressed they will be! We’re looking forward to seeing how Jupiter continues to heal.
February 15, 2023: Throughout this past month staff has taken more of a hands-off approach to Jupiter’s treatments. They were switched to oral medications instead of injectable and they took them well! Jupiter has finished up these medications, and staff will continue to evaluate Jupiter’s treatment plan based on their needs. Staff was finally able to find an enrichment item that does not frighten Jupiter: window clings! Right now, they have dessert-themed clings, and they seem particularly interested in the donut one.
March 15, 2023: Jupiter continues to do well in the Sea Turtle Care Center™. This week, Jupiter received an exam and radiographs to track the healing process of their osteomyelitis infection. Imaging shows us that their osteomyelitis has progressed a little more than we wanted. We have restarted their oral antibiotics in order to combat this. They are taking them well, and we are optimistic with this treatment plan. They have definitely become a little braver and less afraid of the nets we use to clean the tanks, so that’s great! They have also gotten brave enough to try a new piece of enrichment: a head tube! They used to just have window clings (on the outside of their tank) but they’re officially ready to graduate to a head tube inside of the tank. Great job, Jupiter!
April 15, 2023: This month, Jupiter had additional radiographs taken which showed that their osteomyelitis has not worsened, but it also has not improved. Because of this, their oral antibiotics have been renewed by vet staff for another month. Luckily for Sea Turtle Care Center staff, Jupiter is a great eater and has been very good about taking their medications! Jupiter also continues to get braver every month. This month we have introduced them to a couple of new enrichment items, including a backscratcher and a hula hoop!
May 15, 2023: Jupiter’s recent radiographs showed that the osteomyelitis infection in their right front flipper is improving! Jupiter finished the last of the oral antibiotics this past week, and vet staff decided not to renew. They will continue to get monthly radiographs to monitor their progress, but so far so good! Also, Jupiter’s personality has done a 180 turnaround; they are curious and greatly appreciate the back-scratch enrichments. They’re even mowing down every veggie offered to them! This behavioral change is a great indicator of a healthy and active sea turtle.
June 15, 2023: Jupiter is on a roll! They just had another monthly radiograph and the osteolesions have not progressed! Also, Jupiter is growing in weight and size. The scutes (or scales on the back of their shell) have growth rings where new keratin has formed. The layered rings indicate steady growth, which is common in juvenile sea turtles! Jupiter still has plenty of growing to do, but it is exciting to monitor their growth while they’re with us.
July 15, 2023: Jupiter just had their second month of clean radiographs! That means the osteomyelitis in the front flipper has not progressed. It also shows us that Jupiter has really turned a corner and their wounds have healed. We took a small blood sample while Jupiter was out for an exam to make sure all of their blood work is in order. Keep your fingers crossed that, sometime in the near future, Jupiter receives a completely clean bill of health!
July 27, 2023: Surprise!!! Jupiter was released today. Since Jupiter is a high stress patient, we chose to release them quietly in order to keep the animal’s wellbeing our top priority. Jupiter was released in Hamlin Sound which is a great feeding ground for green sea turtles. Wish Jupiter good luck out in the big blue!