Leo | South Carolina Aquarium


Jan 04


Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)

Stranding Location: Cape Cod Bay, MA
Arrival Date: 11/27/22
Age: Juvenile
Weight: 1.36 kg (2.9 lbs)

Case History

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!


Leo is the smallest of all of the cold stuns that we received this season, arriving at just under three pounds! Upon intake, this tiny turtle was alert and responsive while we ran the necessary diagnostics. Fortunately, the imaging did not show any major signs of pneumonia, which we were concerned about as the smaller animals will usually be impacted by the cold faster. Leo was treated with fluids and antibiotics and eventually tried in the tank. They passed their swim test and were strong enough to stay in the tank overnight.


December 15, 2022: Apart from some minor bloodwork issues and a few skin and shell anomalies from the cold and the transport, little Leo began recovering pretty well. They were not very interested in food for the first several days, but eventually became comfortable enough with their surroundings and hungry enough to eat. Now they are eating regularly and receiving oral vitamin supplements. Their activity level is up, and they are very interested in watching their tank mates through the dividers. Fingers crossed for this tiny Kemp’s!

January 15, 2023: This adorable little Kemp’s continues to make strides in their recovery. They are active and eating well. We are keeping our fingers crossed for a quick recovery for Leo!

February 15, 2023: Leo is continuing to do great with their treatment plan; they are eating well and gaining weight. We hope with a little more time, this tiny Kemp’s will make a full recovery and be returned to the ocean in the near future.

March 15, 2023: Leo is one active little turtle! We continue to find new enrichment items to try with Leo to keep them busy and stimulated while they finish out their rehabilitation stay. They are still on track for evaluation in the near future for possible release. Cross your fingers and stay tuned!

April 15, 2023: Big news for Leo: They were released this past month! Leo was released at Little Talbot Island State Park in Jacksonville, Florida. Local water temperatures are still too cold to release here in Charleston, so that is why they made the trip to Florida. Wish them luck out in the big blue!

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