Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)
Stranding Location: Myrtle Beach, SC
Arrival Date: 6/8/23
Weight: 3.02 kg (6.66 lbs)
Parmesan was hooked by an angler through their left, front flipper on the Myrtle Beach State Park Fishing Pier. Fortunately, it was a shallow wound and the hook was easily removed. However, due to the combination of apparent abrasions and ulcerations on their carapace and plastron (the top and bottom of their shell), the state park rangers reported the turtle to South Carolina Department of Natural Resources for transportation to the Sea Turtle Care Center™ for further assessment.
Parmesan was alert and active upon arrival. Our vet staff took radiographs to confirm no other hooks were in the turtle’s esophagus or GI tract. Upon physical examination, Parmesan looked pretty beaten up. They had old, healed scratches and rake marks on their carapace as well as abrasions and bruising on their plastron. They were also missing a portion of their right, rear flipper (which had already healed). To facilitate the healing of their carapace and plastron, we’ll be treating it topically with a betadine solution whenever they are out for their injectable antibiotics. Betadine is great for topical wounds with its antimicrobial properties. The hook wound on their shoulder was very minor and will also be treated with betadine to keep it clean. They also have an ulcer on the right eye that will be treated with antibiotics in the form of eye drops. Though Parmesan looks a little battered, they are at a good weight and are very responsive. Based on their behavior and to alleviate any pressure on their wounds, we decided to try the turtle in a tank that’s one-third filled to test their buoyancy and swimming ability. They had no issues, were very active and didn’t tire themselves out — all good signs. Parmesan was left in water overnight.
June 15, 2023: Parmesan was active and a little calmer the next day in the tank. We gave them a couple pieces of salmon to test their appetite. It took them a little while to recognize it as food, but once they did, they gobbled it up! It often takes our patients a little time to get settled into their new, temporary environment, so they aren’t always immediately interested in food. We’ll offer a couple pieces of fish for the next few days to ensure that they are adjusting well enough before putting them on a weighted diet. Parmesan will get their fill soon!
July 15, 2023: Parmesan’s personality is definitely on the shier side. Turtles may exhibit stressed behavior by pacing the walls of their tank in quick and tireless succession and may have difficulty focusing on other tasks, like recognizing and foraging for food. We recognized this behavior in Parmesan early and ended up moving them to one our more secluded tanks in a quieter space of the hospital. Parmesan’s behavior and appetite adjusted quickly to the new change.
Parmesan is now resting at the bottom, exhibiting a calmer demeanor and eating the full diet quickly without distraction. We are happy to see that this little turtle is showing improvement all around!
August 15, 2023: Parmesan is looking good as new! Though, a little slower than most turtles at chowing down on offered fish, the patient is gaining a healthy amount of weight. The plastron (the underbelly of the shell) appears to be more filled out and flattened, rather than bony and concave as when the patient first arrived. The bruising on Parmesan’s plastron has also healed, leaving it a smooth, creamy color. This patient still needs to put on some more weight before we can consider them for release but Parmesan is heading in that direction!
September 5, 2023: Great news: Parmesan was released! S/he was released at Folly Beach County Park today and took off like a rocket ship. We’re happy to see Parmesan go back home. Wish her/him luck out there in the big blue!