Rhaegal | South Carolina Aquarium


Dec 11


Loggerhead (Caretta Caretta)

Stranding Location: Virginia Beach VA

Arrival Date: 11/29/2017

Age: Juvenile

Weight: 25.20 kg (55.5 pounds)

Case History

This juvenile loggerhead was cold stunned and stranded at Little Island Park in Virginia on 11/17. Once rescued he was quickly brought to the Virginia Aquarium where he was treated for hypothermia. With a body temperature of only 58°F and a heart rate of 12 beats per minute, Rhaegal was closely monitored for the next several days. Once stable, arrangements were made with South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) and National Oceanic Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) to transfer this turtle and two other loggerheads, named Drogon and Viserion, here to the South Carolina Aquarium. On 11/29, the three loggerheads arrived via a jet piloted by Paul Schubert. Paul has generously donated his time and services to transport turtles not just to our aquarium but to other facilities as well. Sea Turtle Care Center staff anxiously awaited the arrival of the three cold-stunned loggerheads from Virginia, and picked them up at the Mount Pleasant Regional Airport, then transporting them the final leg of their trip to the aquarium.


Rhaegal is the smallest of the three loggerheads and was on the quieter side when he arrived at the aquarium. Vitals were checked and radiographs taken as part of his thorough physical examination done by Dr. Boylan. Radiographs revealed pneumonia and he was started on two antibiotics. After the exam, Rhaegal was placed in a shallow tank to recuperate after his travels.


December 4, 2017: Earlier this week, Rhaegal was moved into Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery. He took right to food and has been eating very well. Although, he does tend to spend a majority of his time resting on the bottom of the tank snoozing, we are hopeful he will make a full recovery. In the meantime, he will be receiving antibiotic injections every three days and routine radiographs to monitor the pneumonia.

December 15, 2017: Rhaegal is now up in Recovery and has settled in well! He is still receiving antibiotic injections and will get another set of radiographs later next week to check on the progress of his pneumonia. Rhaegal will also receive diet increases over the next few weeks.

January 15, 2018: Rhaegal is still receiving antibiotic injections to combat his pneumonia. Rhaegal will receive another set of radiographs, and possibly another CT to check out his lungs. Rhaegal is eating really well, and has become stronger in the last few weeks!

February 1, 2018: Two weeks ago, Rhaegal received a CT scan to check on his lungs to see if they had improved. His lungs looks much better than they did when he was admitted, but we are still keeping an eye on them to make sure the infection does not return.

February 15, 2018: Rhaegal is doing great on his road to recovery!

March 1, 2018: Rhaegal was sedated and pulled for a repeat CT scan this week. Based on the CT, his lungs are looking free and clear of any infection. Rhaegal is still a picky eater but is gaining weight and looking great!

March 15, 2018: Rhaegal is still a finicky eater at times but is doing well overall. STCC staff observed that he might be having issues seeing his food so Dr. Anne Cook came in to do an eye exam to check for the presence of cataracts. Rhaegal’s eyes looked clear, and we are just giving him some more time to see if his foraging behavior improves.

April 1, 2018: Rhaegal is doing great, and will hopefully be ready for release in the near future!

April 15, 2018: Exciting news for Rhaegal. He is one of five patients who are going to be tagged for potential release next week!

Release Date

May 10, 2018

Release Location

Isle of Palms County Park

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