Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas)
Stranding Location: Factory Creek off Beaufort River, Beaufort, SC
Arrival Date: 5/4/2019
Weight: 3.99 kg (8.8 pounds)
Butch and Caroline Mumma were on their dock in Beaufort, SC when they noticed friend, Stuart Harvey, in his boat circling something not far from them. Stuart found Pumbaa struggling to dive and thought the animal might need some help. The rescuers called the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) and SCDNR decided that Pumbaa needed additional help. The Mummas set up a shallow water container and waited with him until SCDNR arrived. Michelle Pate, SCDNR Sea Turtle Program Coordinator, transported Pumbaa to the South Carolina Aquarium for further treatment.
At admit Pumbaa was a little lethargic but was in good condition. Sea Turtle Care Center (STCC) staff triaged him immediately. Pumbaa’s bloodwork was about average, he was slightly dehydrated, and his glucose level was down. He received fluids, vitamins, and an antibiotic to help him feel a little better. Overall, Pumbaa looked to be in good body condition; he just had a couple scrapes on his plastron and some bruising. CT images showed a lot of gas inside the GI track, which explains the floating. It is hard to know why there is so much gas inside of him — it can be several things causing it. Pumbaa was set up in a waterbed to relax overnight.
May 7, 2019: The following day, Pumbaa was placed into a tank with very low water. He became active as soon as we put him in and was slightly caudally buoyant. Since there is so much gas in his GI, we don’t want to offer him food until he starts moving stuff along. We are watching closely for any defecations as well as any marine debris inside of the fecal. Sometimes ingested debris can cause the animals to float. Pumbaa will be receiving fluids, vitamins, and antibiotics for a few more weeks. The fluids and vitamins will help Pumbaa get some nutrition because he isn’t eating right now. The antibiotics will help him fight off anything he might have just from being in the wild. Pumbaa is settling nicely into his new, temporary home.
May 15, 2019: Pumbaa has been doing great! He has been defecating well, so we were able to start offering food. He ate it immediately! He’s handling his buoyancy much better. He’s now able to rest comfortably on the bottom of the tank. We’ve also begun to increase his water depth which is always great new for our newer patients! This means he’s gotten strong enough to be able to handle the new depth. Pumbaa is still receiving antibiotics so he’s being pulled every 3 days. Each time we do a treatment on him, he becomes stronger and stronger!
June 15, 2019: Pumbaa has made it to a full tank! He’s handling his new depth like a rockstar! He’s been eating great for us and defecating normally as well. He just finished his antibiotics and had gotten a lot more feisty and stronger during his injections which is always a great sign. We haven’t noticed any further buoyancy problems with him since his admit — he’s worked out his gas on his own! He now has two “roommates” in his tank, Zazu and Mufasa!
July 1, 2019: Pumbaa’s “roommates” were released, so he’s back to living on his own. He continues to eat great and improve daily. This past week, Pumbaa was tagged for release! Since Pumbaa is a juvenile and still has lots of room to grow, he 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 him, but if he does strand or is caught again he can be ID’ed by the numbers on the tag. This tagging process doesn’t mean Pumbaa is ready to go anytime soon, but it means he’s one flipper closer!