Nala | South Carolina Aquarium


Apr 02


Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas)

Stranding Location: North Myrtle Beach, SC

Arrival Date: 3/31/2019

Age: Juvenile

Officer Stevens with Nala

Weight: 6.07 kg (13.4 pounds)

Case History

North Myrtle Beach Patrol Officer J. Stevens found this juvenile green sea turtle at the water line on North Myrtle Beach. Officer Stevens quickly called the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) about this sick sea turtle. While he was talking with SCDNR, Nala was starting to drift back into the water so Officer Stevens quickly got her out and waited with her until volunteer transporters Linda Mataya and Chris Lee arrived. Linda and Chris got quick measurements and a body temperature; Nala’s temperature was a chilly 66°F. Chris and Linda transported this little green to the Aquarium for treatment.


At admit, Nala was a little lethargic and her body temperature had increased to 69°F. Nala had a very heavy epibota load, and was covered in a thick layer of sand. After her initial triage, we cleaned her off and ended up removing about 3 pounds of sand off her shell! Nala’s bloodwork was fairly good, but she was a little dehydrated. She received fluids, vitamins and was started on antibiotics. Radiographs and CT images were mostly clear, with some gas showing up in her GI tract. After admit, Nala was placed on a waterbed in a controlled environment so her body temperature could increase slowly overnight.


April 1, 2019: Nala relaxed in a waterbed overnight to warm up a little more before going into a tank this morning. She was initially floating but, after a couple minutes, she was resting on the bottom. Nala was offered a bite-sized piece of fish and veggies but didn’t show any interest. We hope that in a day or two she’ll be eating like normal. We’re going to keep an eye on her fecal for a few weeks to check for marine debris. Welcome to your temporary home, Nala!

April 15, 2019: Nala has been doing well over the last week and has been resting in her tank. For the first week she was slow to eat or show interest in food, but she finally took her first bites of lettuce! Hopefully Nala will continue on this gravy train, and we will no longer have to do fluid therapy with her.

May 15, 2019: Nala has made it to a full tank! She has been eating great and has finally started defecating on her own! We think Nala wasn’t defecating very well because she had she had an empty stomach from not eating before she stranded. Since she’s been devouring her food, she’s got plenty of yummy food to digest now. She’s become much more active around her tank and is constantly zipping around.

June 15, 2019: Nala is cruising! She’s been doing great in her full tank of water and is consistently eating and defecating. There isn’t a single vegetable that Nala doesn’t devour, and she loves to hang out in her sea grass enrichment. She’s maintained her weight since she’s been in our care; she might start gaining weight now that she’s consistently eating.

July 1, 2019: Not too much has changed with Nala. She moved in with Aardvark to make space for new admits. The tank is divided to keep them separate. Keeping them separate gives us a good look at who is defecating and makes it easy to track if they’re eating. Nala loves to share her space and occasionally tries to steal Aardy’s food. This past week, Nala was tagged for release! Since Nala is a juvenile and still has lots of room to grow, she only received one type of tag called a PIT tag. A PIT tag is a microchip tag very similar to what a cat or dog might have. This tag doesn’t give us the ability to track her, but if she does strand or is caught again she can be ID’ed by the numbers on the tag. This tagging process doesn’t mean Nala is ready to go anytime soon but it means she’s one flipper closer!

July 16, 2019: Nala is just cruising at this point. We are giving her time to put on weight and improve her overall body condition before she’s a release candidate. Nala is now getting over half a pound of veggies a day!

August 1, 2019: You can find Nala spending most of her days resting on the bottom and checking out her 2 neighbors through the dividers. She loves to scratch herself on her carwash enrichment. Did you know sea turtles have the same sensation on their shells as the back of your fingernails? This means some of them love a good back scratch!

August 15, 2019: Nala received a physical exam this week along with her tank mates. Nala is gaining weight and looking great!

September 1, 2019: Due to Hurricane Dorian, Pumbaa, Nala, and Aardvark were all temporarily moved up to our largest pool in Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery. These cuties all rode out the storm together, with no dividers, and they did great! They shared produce and were actively swimming around together. Nala’s weight is up, and she is full of energy.

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