Maple Syrup | South Carolina Aquarium

Maple Syrup

Jun 13

Maple Syrup

Kemp’s Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)

Stranding Location: Folly Beach Fishing Pier, SC
Arrival Date: 6/4/24
Age: Juvenile
Sex: Unknown
Weight: 3.06 kg (6.75 lbs)

Case History

Maple Syrup was accidently hooked by an angler on the Folly Beach Fishing Pier late at night. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources delivered this patient to the Aquarium first thing in the morning for treatment, with the hook still in place inside the mouth.


This little Kemp’s was quite active and feisty upon arrival. Radiographs were taken first to give our veterinarian an idea of the hook’s position and if there were any other internal hooks to consider. Luckily, it was just the one hook which was reachable within the esophagus. Blood was drawn for evaluation and unfortunately, the values indicated that the turtle was under too much stress to safely move forward with hook removal. Instead, we administered fluids, antibiotics and vitamins and did a quick physical exam before adding Maple Syrup to a shallow tank. Based on overall good body condition and activity level, we hoped putting her/him in shallow water would encourage Maple Syrup to relax by being allowed to swim and behave normally in a weightless underwater environment.

Maple Syrup looked great in the shallow tank and was calmly swimming within 10 minutes. The excess line still attached to the hook was firmly taped to the carapace to ensure it stayed in place. Within an hour the turtle defecated, indicating a good sign of gastrointestinal movement and natural behavior. The plan was to recheck the bloodwork the following morning and if stress levels had declined enough, our veterinary team would move forward with removing the hook.


June 6, 2024: Maple Syrup’s blood work was rechecked the next morning. The results verified that her/his stress level declined significantly and that our veterinary staff could move forward with removing the hook! The turtle was mildly sedated for a comfortable and painless removal through the mouth. The circle hook was fairly large and penetrated the soft palate and esophagus. To free it, the hook was cut into two separate pieces. Once finished, Maple Syrup was given pain medication and woken up from sedation. Once fully alert, this little Kemp’s ridley was placed back in her/his tank. Maple Syrup was a star patient, swimming calmly and actively, and is already showing signs of a speedy recovery.

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