Green (Chelonia mydas)
Stranding Location: Sullivan’s Island, SC
Arrival Date: 1/25/19
Weight: 2.1 kg (4.5 lbs)
Mufasa was found washed up on the sand covered in a thick layer of algae and barely moving. Rescuer Gil called a local turtle expert Madeline McGee whom called the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). Permit holder and transporter for SCDNR, Mary Pringle, responded to the call. Mufasa was only 51 degrees when Mary arrived. She drove the chilly turtle to the South Carolina Aquarium for treatment.
When Mufasa arrived at the South Carolina Aquarium, his internal body temperature was taken. He was only 48 degrees; this categorized him as a cold-stunned sea turtle. We cooled the exam room down as much as possible so we could very slowly warm Mufasa up to a normal body temperature of about 75 degrees. Staff removed the large amount of algae, sand and other epibiota from his shell, revealing a layer of small barnacles all over his carapace. All in all, the epibiota weighed 0.5 kgs (about 1 pound)! Other than being cold-stunned, Mufasa had mild pneumonia that was seen on a CT scan. Pneumonia is common with cold-stunned sea turtles and should heal up with antibiotics. He was given eye drops to treat a small abrasion on his left eye, and fluids vitamins and antibiotics were administered. Mufasa was placed in a bin to rest overnight and warm up.
January 29, 2019: Since we do not want to warm cold-stunned patients up too quickly, it took two days for Mufasa to reach a temperature close to the water in his tank. He began swimming around right away and was alert, however, he has shown no interest in food yet. Staff and volunteers are monitoring his defecations for any abnormal findings.
February 15, 2019: Mufasa has had a tough few weeks since being admitted to the Sea Turtle Care Center. It took him a couple of weeks to start eating, but he has only defecated once since he arrived. Veterinary staff tube fed a radio dense contrast liquid to see if there are any blockages preventing Mufasa from defecating. At specific intervals of time we can take x-rays to follow the contrast through the GI tract. If there is a blockage, or other issue with the GI, the contrast can give us an idea of what that might be or where it is. Preliminary results showed there seem to be no apparent blockages, but there is a lot of fecal matter and gas in the GI. Mufasa received 2 enemas in hopes this will help him push out the fecal matter in his colon. In addition to all of this, staff found one small piece of marine debris found in his collected fecal sample. Staff will continue to monitor his fecals for more marine debris for the next few weeks.