MoJo | South Carolina Aquarium


Jul 05


Kemp’s Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)

Stranding Location: Mount Pleasant, SC
Age: Juvenile
Sex: Unknown
Weight: 2.59 kg (5.7 lbs)

Case History

This juvenile Kemp’s ridley was caught on hook and line from a dock in Mount Pleasant. The J-hook was swallowed and embedded deeply in the sea turtle’s esophagus. While MoJo was quite active and in good body condition, it was a very warm summer day and the sea turtle’s body temperature was elevated.

Upon admit, we began with radiographs to assess the hook location and followed with bloodwork to determine if it was safe to move forward with hook removal. Unfortunately, several of the blood parameters were significantly out of range, including high lactate and blood glucose levels. With bloodwork that critical and unstable, it was not safe to move forward with sedating her/him to remove the hook. The best plan of action was to quickly treat with necessary medications, hydrate with fluids and reduce stress by allowing MoJo to recover in a shallow tank of water. After about an hour and a half, MoJo began to settle and was swimming more calmly in the tank for the remainder of the night. The monofilament attached to the hook was taped to her/his carapace to ensure it stayed in place and that MoJo would not swallow the hook further. This fishing line would be used later as a guide to locate the hook during removal. Many thanks to the rescuers and South Carolina Department of Natural Resources permitted volunteers who transported MoJo to the Aquarium!

This resilient sea turtle was given the name MoJo in honor of Charleston Coffee Roasters, lead sponsor of the Nutritional Care Program at the South Carolina Aquarium. This program is central to our animal care and provides sustainably sourced restaurant-quality nutrition to our animals, including patients in the Care Center.


The next morning, MoJo was alert and responsive and had even passed a good amount of crabshell material from the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. MoJo was taken to the exam room to recheck her/his bloodwork. We were relieved to see that the bloodwork was back to more normal and safe levels. After a quick radiograph to visualize the hook’s position, we sedated MoJo for hook removal. After some manipulating, the hook was successfully removed through the oral cavity (mouth) without needing major surgery! After the sedation medication was reversed, MoJo was moved back to a shallow tank to rest and recover further.

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