Queso | South Carolina Aquarium


May 16


Green (Chelonia mydas)

Stranding Location: Myrtle Beach State Park, SC
Arrival Date: 4/23/23
Age: Juvenile
Weight: 3.12 kg (6.88 lbs)

Case History

Queso was caught by an angler at Myrtle Beach State Park Fishing Pier. South Carolina Department of Natural Resources transporters picked up the little green and brought them to the Sea Turtle Care Center™. The turtle arrived with fishing line, attached rigs and fishhooks in their mouth and esophagus!


Upon arrival, Care Center staff took radiographs (commonly known as x-rays) and determined that there were two fishing hooks caught in the turtle’s esophagus. In order to remove the hooks, Queso was sedated. The extra fishing line attached to the hooks was helpful for the veterinary staff, as they could use it to better locate the hook. Vet staff successfully removed the larger of the two hooks. The smaller, second hook was located too deeply in the esophagus to be removed through the oral cavity at admit. We are hopeful that Queso will be able to pass it by themselves. This juvenile green was given pain medications following the hook removal, as it can be painful, and were left in a wet dock overnight where we could more easily monitor them. Following our normal treatment protocols, the patient was also given fluids, vitamins and antibiotics. During admit, Queso had a little surprise for staff: a PIT tag! Little Queso has been encountered before.


The following day, Queso had lots of energy and seemed to be feeling better, so we felt confident graduating them to a full tank in ICU. Once in the tank, this patient even pooped! This might seem like a small accomplishment, but it is a major milestone for many of our turtles and can give us more information about what Queso has been eating in the wild and/ or if they have contracted any intestinal parasites. Since Queso has been previously tagged, we will be able to identify where they were before the Care Center. Staff is waiting to hear back on where Queso was previously seen!

May 15, 2023: Queso has had a busy few weeks at the Care Center. Staff wanted to be as minimally invasive as possible, so they left the other hook alone for a few days, hoping that the little turtle would pass the hook on their own. Unfortunately, that was not the case. But the good news is, Queso was the perfect surgical patient! Our vet team was able to surgically remove the small hook with ease. Since the surgical procedure, Queso has started eating and is showing no signs of issues swallowing or jaw pain. We will continue to keep a close eye on them to make sure the surgical site continues to heal well!

June 15, 2023: This past week Queso had their sutures removed! The incision site had healed beautifully. Since the sutures were removed, they were allowed to have in-tank enrichment again. When we put the sea grass enrichment in, Queso immediately swam over to it and swam in and out. Watch this little cutie interact with their enrichment in Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery™!

August 15, 2023: Queso continues to be a model patient by eating all offered food items and taking vitamins that we sneak into fish pieces. Some turtles catch on to the trick and spit the vitamins out, but not Queso! The incision site from removing the hook embedded in Queso’s esophagus continues to look better every day. Come check out Queso in Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery!

July 15, 2023: Queso has become a model patient in Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery™. This little turtle has a healthy appetite and is very inquisitive. Queso seems to enjoy all types of enrichment, from trying to bite at window gummies, to pushing around a floating PVC tee, to exploring a new head tube. This patient is quite the character! Enrichment items are important to keep animals mentally stimulated and help them practice natural foraging and hiding behaviors. We also make sure to switch them out regularly so they never get bored! Due to Queso’s previous surgical procedure, we want to keep an eye on this one for a little longer to ensure that the incision site is fully healed. Queso definitely has a bright future ahead of them!

August 22, 2023: In queso you were curious (See what we did there?)… Queso has been released! Today we released four sea turtles, including Queso, at Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge! We wish Queso the best of luck!

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