Oatmeal | South Carolina Aquarium


Jun 06


Kemp’s Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)

Stranding Location: Myrtle Beach State Park, SC
Arrival Date: 5/13/2024
Age: Juvenile
Sex: Unknown
Weight: 2.92 kg (6.44 lbs)

Case History

This juvenile Kemp’s ridley sea turtle was caught with not one, not two, but three fishing hooks at Myrtle Beach State Park! The angler removed two of the hooks at the pier, but the third hook was lodged in the esophagus. Our thanks to the park rangers and turtle team members who helped transport this patient and inform the public that leaving the fishing line and hooks attached to the patient is helpful to our veterinarians. Being able to remove the attached hooks safely and effectively is key to not overly stressing these patients. The attached fishing line helps to guide the veterinarians to exactly where the hook is stuck in the esophagus, resulting in an easier removal!


Upon arrival, a physical exam and radiographs were performed on Oatmeal. In addition to the J-hook lodged in the esophagus, Oatmeal presented with an ulcer on the right eye and rake marks on her/his carapace. This patient was given eye drops, antibiotics, fluids and vitamins. Oatmeal was then sedated and our veterinary team attempted to remove the hook orally. It was a success! After anesthesia reversal medications were administered, the patient showed good energy levels and was placed in a shallow tank of water. Oatmeal was swimming calmly, breathing well and resting easily, so we were comfortable leaving this small Kemp’s ridley in water overnight.

If you, or anyone you know, enjoy fishing and accidentally hook a sea turtle on the line, call the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources at 1(800) 922-5431 and do not cut the line!


May 21, 2024: Oatmeal has started to eat but seems to have some particular diet preferences. This little Kemp’s ridley is only willing to eat mackerel and salmon and has refused to eat lake smelt and squid. We are catering  (quite literally) to these choices since getting a turtle eating regularly again is important to their overall health. Once at a healthier weight, we will try to encourage other fish options again.

June 15, 2024: Oatmeal recently joined Pancake and Poptart in what we’re jokingly referring to as the ”Kemp’s Condo” in Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery™! This tank is divided into four sections, Oatmeal has her/his own personal area while sharing the tank with two other Kemp’s ridley’s. Oatmeal’s calm demeanor made the transition easy and surprisingly had a positive effect on tank mate, Poptart. Poptart was seen spending much time swimming in her/his corner but became calmer and started resting well after Oatmeal’s addition. The division of the large tank gives these turtles their own space and frees up other tanks for brand new patients.

June 28, 2024:  It was an exciting day for this juvenile Kemp’s ridley sea turtle. After making a full recovery in our Sea Turtle Care Center, Oatmeal was released by boat today into a beautiful local saltmarsh habitat. Wish Oatmeal the best of luck out in the big blue!

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