Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)
Stranding Location: Cherry Grove, North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Arrival Date: 8/20/2019
Weight: 40.3 lbs
Nobi was found by a fisherman named Joseph Elliot in Cherry Grove, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Nobi was swimming in circles in the water, seemingly unable to swim properly. The fisherman thought Nobi was entangled in fishing line and rescued him but could not find any gear once he had him in hand. Nobi was, however, missing a portion of both of his front and back left flippers. The rescuer called the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) to report the struggling turtle and Linda Mataya responded and transported Nobi to the South Carolina Aquarium.
When Nobi arrived, staff members did a full physical exam. Nobi did not have any signs of entanglement but had likely endured a predator attack from a shark. He was missing the majority of his front left flipper and his rear left flipper. Both of these wounds were mostly healed up though. Staff also noticed Nobi’s left eye was abnormal. We gave Nobi a lot of vitamins, fluids, and antibiotics, as well as treated the wounds from the shark attack. We placed him in shallow water in his tank and let him rest overnight.
September 15, 2019: Nobi has continued to receive fluids and vitamins over the past few weeks since he has not started eating on his own. He has consumed a few different types of fish, but only when staff uses tongs to put the food up to his face or directly into his mouth. Nobi is a fighter though. He is alert and responsive and is prepared to bite you if you come too close to his face. We are hoping that Nobi will begin eating on his own very soon.
October 1, 2019: Nobi has finally started eating on his own! Since our last update, Nobi began eating one specific kind of fish — Capelin. While this is normally not a favorite among our patients, Nobi loves it! He is on a weighted diet, and we are slowly increasing his tank depth. (We are at ¾ of a full tank!) Nobi’s left eye is impaired, likely from previous unknown trauma, so he will receive an ophthalmic exam in the next few weeks to evaluate his vision.
October 15, 2019: Dr. Anne Cook from Animal Eye Care of the Lowcountry performed an eye exam on Nobi and confirmed his issues were caused by trauma that damaged his pupil. Fortunately, he has limited vision in that eye, and his ability to find food is not hindered. He is now eating great and swimming well at full water level! Nobi stranded with with a heavy parasite load, including Caryospora, but since he is more stable and eating consistently we can begin treatment.
November 1, 2019: We began giving Nobi a parasite dewormer and so far, he’s taking it like a champ! We will continue to collect fecals bimonthly to monitor his parasite load. Once a patient is treated for parasites, they will start packing on the pounds because they are consuming all the nutrients from their diets. So even though Nobi is still thin, we anticipate that changing!
November 15, 2019: In the last month, Nobi has completed his anti-parasitic treatment and has gained over two pounds! Since he’s more stable now, we moved him into the deepest tank in Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery. We started him at about half a tank, and we will gradually increase the depth at a pace that’s comfortable for him. Doing this will allow us to see how well Nobi can swim in deep water, and he will build muscle while continuing to learn how to compensate for the missing portions of his flippers. Just keep swimming, Nobi!
December 1, 2019: Nobi is doing great in his new, large tank! We have gradually increased the water level in the tank and it is now over 5 feet full. Nobi has done very well swimming in the full depth tank, and he is learning to compensate for the partial loss of both his left side flippers. We are very impressed with how well he can get around while foraging for food, and with all this exercise he’s building up a lot of muscle!
December 15, 2019: Nobi is continuing to improve his ability to swim and compensate for his partial flipper loss. We will continue to give Nobi time to get stronger, so that he has every shot at being a potential release candidate in the future.
January 1, 2020: Nobi continues to cruise around his spacious tank with no major difficulty. All that exercise, combined with his great appetite, has really been paying off and Nobi has gained over 4 pounds since he arrived a few short months ago.
January 15, 2020: Nobi was pulled for a weight check, and overall has healed up well. We are continuing to evaluate his ability to swim, and forage for food in our deep tank in recovery. He still has some healing left to do on his left front flipper.
February 1, 2020: Nothing new to report with Nobi—we are just giving him time to heal and will be pulling him for a full exam soon.
February 15, 2020: Last week Nobi was pulled for a weight check, and physical exam by Dr. Shane. Everything is looking good! Nobi still has lots of thick fibrin around his front left flipper, and it is still in the healing process.
March 1, 2020: Nobi continues to heal and get stronger while swimming in his deep tank. He has gained five and a half pounds in the time he has spent here in rehabilitation and we are so pleased with his progress! We are giving him time for some areas of his shell to heal up after they’ve been rubbing along the tank wall.
March 15, 2020: Everything is pretty status quo with Nobi as his flippers continue to heal. We are monitoring his swimming strength and ability to forage in the large pool to determine how he would do in the wild.
April 1, 2020: Nobi was pulled for a weight, measurement and exam at the end of March. If you haven’t seen it already, we live streamed the exam via our Facebook page! Overall, everything looked great on Nobi’s physical exam, he just has some areas of irritation along his marginal scutes from rubbing the sides of the tank that are finally healing up. Be sure to follow our Facebook page for more live updates, videos, and photos of our sweet Nobi and other animals at the aquarium!
May 1, 2020: Last week, Nobi was pulled out for weight and measurements. At that time, the veterinary staff did an examination, and the abrasions on the outside edges of Nobi’s shell are filling in nicely. There was only a minimal amount of material that needed to be debrided. His flippers look great and are healing well. He is foraging for food well in the deep tank, and has no trouble getting around which is a positive sign!
June 1, 2020:Nobi has been doing great these last few weeks! He has been eating well, gaining weight and cruising around the tank with ease. We will be pulling him next week to recheck his blood work and make sure the abrasions on the edges of his shell have continued to heal as well as they were. We are hopeful for a great checkup.