Loggerhead (Caretta caretta)
Stranding Location: Cape Cod, MA
Arrival Date: 12/15/23
Weight: 14.88 kg (32.80 lbs)
This turtle is one of many that stranded up in the New England area due to cold stunning. New England Aquarium (NEAQ) treats hundreds of sea turtles during a just few months throughout the winter. This year we were able to take five of these turtles to help lighten their load, at least a little. This turtle originally stranded in Cape Cod, Massachusetts on December 8, 2023. We coordinated with NEAQ, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the non-profit organization Turtles Fly Too to transfer these patients to the Aquarium. Pilot Andy Davidson and his wife Karie flew Romano, and the others, to Charleston on December 15!
Romano is the largest of our cold stunned loggerhead sea turtles admitted. This patient’s body condition was a bit thin and the flippers had some minor abrasions, but Romano’s physical examination was overall decent. Luckily, the medical records from the New England Aquarium reported no significant findings in the diagnostic imaging results! Blood work was taken and revealed room for improvement though. Romano was given fluids, vitamins and antibiotics as initial treatment. Lastly, an ultrasound was done and showed that the patient had good GI movement and everything looked fairly normal. Romano was approved for a swim test in a full tank of water!
When first placed in the tank, this loggerhead was a bit stressed and looked slightly caudally (back end) buoyant. Romano had quite the long day, so this was not particularly surprising! After a few minutes, Romano took a deep breath and appeared less stressed. The patient’s pacing lessened and with additional exhalations, Romano levelled out in the water column. At the end of the day, Romano was crawling and resting at the bottom of the tank and was approved to stay in a full tank overnight!
December 20, 2023: The next day, Romano was alert in their tank, showing no signs of buoyancy issues or stress. A small amount of fish was offered to test the turtle’s appetite. Romano was very quick to investigate and recognize that we were offering food and ate it up with no problem! Romano has had small diet increases and will start getting oral vitamins soon!
January 15, 2024: Romano continues to have a healthy appetite and is wonderful at taking oral vitamins! This past month, Romano received enrichment for the first time. So far, Romano seems to be using the head tube the most. Out in the wild, turtles will often rest and sleep tucked into rocks or corals to feel safe and covered. We try to mimic that in the Care Center with large PVC tubes that turtles can rest their heads inside if they choose to. Romano has recently been doing this often.
February 15, 2024: Thankfully when Romano arrived, s/he was in pretty good health! The minor ailments we observed have been fully resolved with antibiotics. Romano was tagged earlier this month and we are awaiting bloodwork results to determine if this little loggerhead will be cleared for release!