Rainbow | South Carolina Aquarium


Jun 20


Kemp’s Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)

Stranding Location: Cherry Grove Pier, Myrtle Beach, SC
Arrival Date: 6/2/2020
Age: Juvenile
Weight: 4.0 kg (9lb)

Case History

Rainbow was caught on hook and line at Cherry Grove Pier in Myrtle Beach. The hook appeared to be deep into the jaw, so South Carolina Department of Natural Resouces (SCDNR) was contacted. SCDNR permit holder, Linda Mataya, responded to the call and transported another little kemp’s to the South Carolina Aquarium for hook removal.


Rainbow was very active and feisty at admit! Rainbow’s weight was taken, followed by a quick x-ray to determine the location of the hook. Luckily, Rainbow’s J hook was not too deep into his esophagus and our vet staff was optimistic it could be removed without surgery. After blood was taken and the results were evaluated, Rainbow received a light sedation to help make the hook removal more comfortable for him. Dr. Shane was able to access the hook and get it free which fortunately,  caused minimal damage to the throat. Fluids with vitamins were administered and Rainbow was started on antibiotics. Once the sedation reversal kicked in, Rainbow was very active and we were able to put him in a shallow water tank later in the afternoon.


June 15, 2020: Rainbow’s water level was slowly increased over the last two weeks and he is now in a full tank! We are still giving him antibiotic injections twice a week and slowly increasing his diet. We are hoping that Rainbow will have a quick stay in rehabilitation!

July 15, 2020: Rainbow was moved up to Tank 4 in Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery after we released some patients! Rainbow has finished his antibiotics, received a physical exam and had a blood pull to see how he’s coming along in his rehabilitation. We are still waiting on his bloodwork results, but he is looking great! 

August 15, 2020: Rainbow’s bloodwork came back a little on the low side ,so we are giving her a little bit more time to bounce back. Sometimes hooked turtles are fighting internal issues that cause them to go after easy bait and make their rehab stay a little longer than usual.

September 15, 2020:  Rainbow finished her laser therapy treatment this week and the swelling in the flipper really hasn’t changed very much. She may now have swelling in the other flipper, but we are closely monitoring it for major changes and doing exams on both flippers regularly. Rainbow does not act like anything is wrong though! She is a good eater, always takes her vitamins and hasn’t had any issues using those two flippers.

October 15, 2020: There have not been many changes with Rainbow over the last month. She continues to eat well and is using the flippers with osteomyelitis normally. We will monitor the progression of the infection by taking monthly x-rays. Overall, Rainbow will just need time for the infection to resolve before she is considered a release candidate and will likely be with us longer.

December 15, 2020: Rainbow has continued to receive her monthly radiograph soon to monitor the osteomyelitis in her flipper. She uses the flipper fine though and doesn’t seem to have any issues with it in any way. She is gaining weight and growing, which we like to see! 

January 15, 2021: Rainbow is doing well overall. She is a bit chunky but that’s good! We pulled her out of her tank recently for a regular exam and weight check, and staff found a small, swollen area on the underside of her left elbow joint. The veterinarians cut into the spot and pushed out a small cyst-like abscess. Since Rainbow had osteomyelitis in this same joint, this was likely just leftover debris from the infection. She still uses the flipper fine, and we are not concerned about any lasting issues.  

February 15, 2021:  Rainbow has had a busy couple of weeks! We have been monitoring the abscessed area on the underside of her flipper and it is healing well. We had to remove a chunk of fibrin last week, but this is normal healing tissue. Fibrin is like a scab and will fall off or be able to be removed gently when it’s ready to come off. Its presence tells us that the wound is healing well. Staff also noticed a slight opacity to Rainbow’s eyes a couple of weeks ago and after an eye exam with the veterinarian, we found that Rainbow has some abrasions on her eyes. We were able to easily heal these within a week’s time by giving her eye drops twice a day for five days in a row. She has another eye exam next week to check on the healing. There should be no long term affects from these abrasions.

March 15, 2021:  Rainbow has been doing well since our last update! We are continuing to monitor the osteomyelitis in her front flipper by taking monthly x-rays. Other than that we are just giving her more time for her infection to resolve before we evaluate her for release.

April 15, 2021:  Rainbow has been doing well since our last update! We are continuing to monitor the osteomyelitis in her front flipper by taking monthly x-rays. Other than that, we are just giving her more time for her infection to resolve before we evaluate her for release.  

May 15, 2021:  Rainbow is pretty status quo since our last update! We pulled her for a weight and measurement. She is a little on the thin side, so we increased her diet and will give her some more time to gain weight.  

June 15, 2021: Recently, we reevaluated Rainbow for release. She had been tagged several months ago, but her bloodwork was poor and the osteomyelitis was not fully healed yet. We adjusted Rainbow’s vitamin regime for help with her poor bloodwork and increased her exposure to UVB lighting. We are awaiting bloodwork and physical exam results from the evaluation to determine if she is ready for release yet.

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