Manchego | South Carolina Aquarium


Sep 12


Kemp’s Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)

Stranding Location: Myrtle Beach, SC
Arrival Date: 8/10/23
Age: Juvenile
Sex: Unknown
Weight: 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs)

Case History

Manchego was accidentally caught by hook and line on the Myrtle Beach State Park Fishing Pier. The fisherman and state park rangers were able to safely secure the hooked sea turtle and notify the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). SCDNR coordinated the transportation efforts to get Manchego to the South Carolina Aquarium for careful hook removal and treatment assessment.


Manchego arrived quite active, very warm and had an extremely rapid heart rate. A large fishing hook was visible from the left side of the mouth. Manchego also has an old, partially healed propeller wound on her/his right side. The radiographs showed that the lungs were most likely unaffected as they were both fully inflated and symmetrical. The wound was cleaned with an antiseptic solution.

Due to the turtle’s high body temperature and heart rate, vet staff were concerned with sedating the patient for hook removal. Irregular body temperatures and heart rate can cause the mediations to be metabolized differently, making them unreliable for the procedure. Luckily, the hook was superficial and staff were able to flatten the barb. This meant that the hook could be quickly and easily removed. This was key in the patient’s triage because it was important to get her/him in water to begin to cool down gradually. Manchego received fluids, vitamins and antibiotics following the procedure and was tested in a half-full tank of water. S/he did great adjusting to the new environment almost immediately, swimming levelly in the water column and taking good strong breaths. The water temperature was perfect to help slowly lower Manchego’s body temperature overnight.


August 20, 2023: In the following days, Manchego was bright and active in behavior. Staff were able to assess the little turtle’s appetite and pain level by offering a small amount of food. S/he passed with flying colors and is now eating what we consider a normal diet! Manchego has been doing well at adjusting to her/his tank and has even started receiving enrichment!

September 15, 2023: You can now visit Manchego in the Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery Center™! This little turtle is now off antibiotics and the carapace wound is almost fully healed. Upon a fecal examination, our vet staff found a small amount of caryospora present in the sample. Caryospora is a GI parasite that can cause digestive issues but is treatable. To reduce the possibility of transfer, Manchego will be quarantined with her/his own cleaning supplies and disinfecting equipment.

October 15, 2023: Manchego continues to do well! S/he is eating everything and taking vitamins well. Because Manchego’s carapace wound is healing so nicely, Care Center staff were able to start offering a few different enrichment items this month. Come check out Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery™ to see what enrichment item Manchego has this week!

November 15, 2023: Manchego continues to be a model patient, eating everything and defecating regularly. We are continuing to monitor the healing of Manchego’s carapace (top shell) wound. This wound continues to look better and better at each physical exam but still is not fully healed yet!

December 15, 2023: During the last physical exam, Manchego had gained some weight. This is not necessarily a bad thing but since this patient will be staying in rehabilitation through the winter, we have decreased the diet slightly. Manchego no longer has severe wounds to heal and is instead putting those calories into weight gain, so we don’t need to offer as much food. The diet decrease will allow Manchego to maintain the current weight and grow steadily! Visit today and see how good Manchego looks this holiday season!

January 15, 2024: This past month Manchego received a physical exam with our veterinarians to check on the healing process of the old propeller wound on the carapace. We are happy to announce that the wound is almost fully healed! There is just a small area of fibrin (scab-like tissue) still present. We are very happy with Manchego’s progress!

February 15, 2024: Manchego’s diagnoses have been resolved! The area of concern on the carapace has healed beautifully and this patient has gained a respectable amount of weight. Manchego was tagged earlier this month and we are awaiting bloodwork results to determine if this little Kemp’s ridley will be cleared for release!

February 26, 2024: Today Manchego made a trip to Florida’s warmer waters and was successfully released at Little Talbot Island State Park along with nine other rehabilitated patients! Wish Manchego the best of luck out in the big blue!

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