Stranding Location: C.C. Haig, Jr. Boat Landing, Pinckney Island, SC
Arrival Date: 10/05/2014
Weight: 4.2 kg (~9 lb.)
We admitted a very interesting case on Sunday night: a small green sea turtle caught on hook-and-line. Sea turtle interactions with recreational fisheries are certainly not uncommon, and we’ve removed so many circle and J-hooks from sea turtles over the years that our veterinarian is very adept at the process. However, our hook-and-line patients are typically Kemp’s ridley and, on rare occasions, loggerhead sea turtles. Additionally, this little green had not one, but two hooks in his throat, leading us to believe he’s a repeat offender of trying to steal bait off fishermen’s hooks.
This turtle was given the historically important name of “Pinckney” in honor of his stranding location. Thankfully, Pinckney was in relatively good physical condition upon admittance. (This was a nice change of pace for us, as we are accustomed to administering emergency medical treatment for animals with catastrophic boat strikes or life-threatening nutritional deficiencies.) Radiographs revealed two hooks deep in the oral cavity and a gut full of food. Dr. Boylan administered sedatives and, once Pinckney was very sleepy, efficiently removed the hooks from his mouth. The second hook still had a large chunk of squid attached!
We’ve recently learned that photobiotherapy helps alleviate sore throats in humans so, thanks to two very generous donors, we used our fabulous cold laser to treat the hook wounds in the mouth before putting this little turtle to bed for the night. Pinckney was slow to recover from his sedatives, but we were able to put him in a tank of filtered water on the day after his hook removal procedure. Prognosis is good.
4 November 2014: Little Pinckney is doing fabulously well in our hospital! She loves to eat her daily diet, which is composed primarily of healthy, organic greens donated from a local grocer, Earth Fare, and includes a small amount of supplementary fish protein. Although we cannot provide her with the algae and plankton she’d be grazing on in the wild, the foods we do provide are a very nutritional approximation of her wild diet. In addition, our vet recently checked her fecal sample and determined she is free of excessive intestinal parasites, which is great news.
Staff and interns recently designed a new enrichment item for our sea turtles that incorporates buoyant commercial car washing strips onto PVC bases. The end result: artificial seagrass beds! These new devices add structure and visual stimulation to the tanks of our rehabilitating sea turtles, are extremely safe, and are an especially exciting addition for our herbivorous green sea turtles. Come to our sea turtle hospital and check them out!
13 November 2014: Pinckney is doing so well in our hospital that our vet is currently evaluating this little green for release! We collaborated with SCDNR yesterday to tag this little turtle and Seabrook, a hook-and-line Kemp’s ridley that is also recovering in our hospital. Hopefully, both of these turtles will be returning back to the Atlantic in the very near future.