Lady | South Carolina Aquarium


Jul 10


Weight: 43.3 kg (~95 pounds)

Case History

This severely emaciated sub-adult loggerhead was found floating in the water near Lady’s Island, SC. Boaters observed that this turtle was covered in barnacles and was not behaving normally; as such, they made the right decision to report this sick loggerhead to the SC Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). SCDNR maintains a public hotline for reporting sick and injured sea turtles like this one; the number is 1.800.922.5431.


Named “Lady” in reference to her stranding location, this large loggerhead was transferred to our hospital by SCDNR. We’ve had numerous sea turtles admitted late at night recently and Lady was no exception; her admission began at 10:15 P.M. Our team worked into the early morning hours to provide supportive care for Lady. This included fluids to combat dehydration and low blood sugar, IV hetastarch to replace deficient blood proteins and to provide the heart with fluid to circulate throughout the body, and injectable vitamins to provide the body with nutrients necessary for recovery. Interestingly, there were numerous ribbed mussels attached to her shell, which indicates she’s been in the saltmarsh recently rather than in our nearshore ocean waters.


8 July 2015: Lady is still very lethargic and is being kept in shallow water. However, she is apparently striving to live up to her pretentious name: she is by far the pickiest eater we have in our hospital right now! She always chews her fish excessively, which makes a huge mess in her tank and requires us to spend more time than normal cleaning up after her to maintain water quality. In addition, she only eats mackerel and salmon and refuses to even nibble at the other healthy options we offer (capelin, smelt, trout, herring, etc.). She won’t eat fish heads and she likes to spit the skin of her fish out, which is frustrating as both of these items provide important nutrients. This skinny turtle clearly isn’t making weight gain a priority!

9 September 2015: This picky turtle has finally gained a substantial amount of weight: she’s up to 115 pounds. While this represents an improvement, Lady is still thin and her shell bones are still soft from long-term malnutrition. Over time, her healthy hospital diet and calcium supplements will strengthen her shell and help her body heal completely.

21 October 2015: Lady is still by far the pickiest and messiest loggerhead in our hospital! She has now decided that mackerel aren’t palatable, which means we must offer her nearly 4 lb. of salmon each and every day. On a good note, blood work processed in-house yesterday shows her internal health is slowly improving. Her hematocrit is up to 25%, which means she’s only slightly anemic, and her total solids are excellent (5.0 g/dL). Despite these good blood work values, however, Lady still appears very thin and her shell is clearly deficient in calcium. This turtle will be with us over the winter as she continues to heal.

6 January 2016: Despite having cataracts in both eyes Lady surprising has the ability to locate food on her own. She is continuing to be fed a nutrient rich diet of salmon at 3% of her body weight, in order to promote proper weight gain. We are observing a nice steady increase in weight and an overall improvement in body condition. She is almost unrecognizable from the emaciated and lethargic sea turtle that she once was. Lady is tentatively schedule to have cataract surgery this spring.

dr anne cook with lady
Dr. Cook doing a follow-up visit with Lady

21 January 2016: Today, Lady was pulled for weights and measurements. This task is usually done every two weeks to once a month depending on the condition of the patient. Lady has gained 1.3 kg (3 lb.) in the past month and now weights 122 pounds! She is becoming stronger and healthier each day, and upon physical examination it is evident that her body condition has improved since December.

23 March 2016: We are happy to announce that Lady is ready to undergo surgery to remove her bilateral cataracts! This surgery will take place on Friday April 1st, and will be performed by Dr. Anne Cook at Animal Eye Care of the Lowcountry in Mt. Pleasant. This will mark Dr. Cook’s sixth loggerhead sea turtle cataract surgery. Based on our former patients, we are optimistic that this surgery will be a success and that Lady will regain her vision. Lady will most likely stay at the SC Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital for a few months, post-surgery, in order for staff to observe her hunting abilities, and allow her additional time to gain some extra weight. If all goes according to plan, we are predicting a summer release!


14 April 2016: Lady is doing amazingly well post cataract surgery. We have just completed the two week course of eye drop medication and, after a recheck from Dr. Cook, it appears as if her eyes are healing well. Staff will soon offer live blue crabs in order to assess her ability to hunt and capture prey.

v24 May 2016: Lady has been doing exceptionally well over the past month or so. She is eating around four pounds of salmon per day and putting on some much need weight. She is now weighing in at a little over 140 pounds! Unfortunately for her care takers, Lady is one of the messiest eaters as she loves to overly chew every single, piece of her food! Much time and effort is put into netting out any leftover fish, and cleaning her protein skimmer and filter socks in order to make sure her water is always as clean as possible. This labor of love has made her a current summer intern’s favorite, as good ole quality time has brought these two together through the meticulous act of netting out Lady’s tank each and every day!

18 June 2016: Lady is on the homestretch and will hopefully be returning back to the ocean in a few weeks. She is scheduled for pre-release blood work next week and will hopefully be medically cleared shortly after!

Release Date

June 30, 2016

Release Location

Isle of Palms County Park

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