Luke Skywalker | South Carolina Aquarium

Luke Skywalker

Dec 15

Luke Skywalker

Loggerhead (Caretta caretta)

Arrival Date: 11/27/2016

Stranding Location: Eastham, Massachusetts

Weight: 43 pounds

Case History

Luke Skywalker stranded on a frigid beach in Cape Cod. Luke was extremely lethargic, with a low heart rate of about 6 beats per minute, when he arrived at New England Aquarium. Fluids, vitamins and antibiotics were administered, and Luke was closely monitored. After about a week at New England Aquarium, Luke was cleared for transport and was flown down to South Carolina Aquarium to recuperate.


Luke was the only loggerhead sea turtle patient we received from New England Aquarium this season. When Luke was picked up from the airport, our Sea Turtle Care Center staff immediately recognized how lethargic he was. Luke had both a low heart rate and respiration rate and would not breathe without stimulation. Luke received supportive care in the form of fluids, vitamins and antibiotics. Our Sea Turtle Care staff closely monitored him into the wee hours of the night. Luke received fluids, vitamins and antibiotics and was placed on a ventilator for the remaining portion of the night. The next morning, staff was happily surprised to see Luke more responsive and alert! After another day of rest and slow-drip fluids, Luke was placed in a shallow water tank and closely observed.


December 13, 2016: Luke has been slowly recovering. He took a few days to become interested in food and is now eating a full diet more consistently. Luke is often seen resting with his head in a PVC tube and has been very active overall. Luke is currently receiving antibiotics biweekly.

January 6, 2017: Luke Skywalker is finally starting to eat his diet more consistently as we are offering food in small portions throughout the day. Luke is no longer on any antibiotics, but is still pulled for weight, measurements and a physical exam every two weeks. Unfortunately, Luke is non-visual in his right eye due to unknown trauma, and will be examined by an ophthalmologist in the next few weeks.

February 7, 2017: Dr. Anne Cook of Animal Eye Care of the Lowcountry confirmed that Luke is not visual in the right eye through an eye exam. We are trying to incorporate new fish types into his diet, but he continues to favor mackerel. What is troublesome is that Luke is exhibiting some behaviors that are not normal for a loggerhead sea turtle. This indicates that he may have sustained neurological damage due to the trauma to his right eye. We will be getting a CT on Luke in the next few weeks.

March 1, 2017: Luke is often observed swimming in front of the tank window. He is more active and seems to be improving. Luke is still a very picky eater, and will only eat mackerel or salmon, preferring one over the other on some days.

April 3, 2017: Luke Skywalker’s neurological behavior continues to improve, and Luke is eating mainly salmon these days. Overall, Luke is gaining weight and doing well.

May 5, 2017: Recently, staff took Luke to the Charleston Veterinary Referral Center for a CT scan. Senior veterinarian, Dr. Shane Boylan, saw no abnormalities signifying severe trauma to Luke’s skull. Staff was concerned there may have been damage (due to trauma) to the right eye because of the neurological behavior that was exhibited after admit. Luke is doing well otherwise and enjoys swimming in the window of his tank.

May 19, 2017: Luke continues to improve and gain weight. He spends lots of time swimming in the window of his tank and engaging guests of all ages!

Release Date

May 31, 2017

Release Location

Folly Beach County Park

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