Loggerhead (Caretta caretta)
Stranding Location: Kiawah Island, SC
Arrival Date: 5/23/2018
Weight: 47.4 kg (104 lbs)
Scabbers was found in shallow water right off of Kiawah Island near the Sanctuary. He was repeatedly spotted struggling to surface in a tidal pool by beachgoers, Samuel and Marilyn Guarnieri. Kiawah Island Turtle Team volunteers Lynne Sager and Cindy Lockhart came to the rescue! They quickly called the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) and waited with the turtle for SCDNR to arrive. Once SCDNR staff Tyler Harrell arrived, she quickly assessed the situation. Tyler and the volunteers waded into the tidal pool to rescue Scabbers. Once they began moving him, they noticed that he was missing a majority of his front left flipper, most likely due to a predator attack, and appeared to be tethered to something. With multiple lines wrapped around his body and flippers, Tyler carefully cut the rope to release Scabbers. They were pulling the rest of the line out of the water when they noticed it was attached to a second loggerhead sea turtle. The second loggerhead was severely entangled and unfortunately deceased. A reminder of the hazards of derelict fishing gear, and the all too real consequences of entanglement. Scabbers was most likely struggling to surface given the weight of the second turtle holding him down and was very fortunate to have been found in time. This lucky loggerhead was safely carried off the beach and transported to the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Care Center (STCC) for medical treatment.
Upon admit, staff noticed Scabbers suffered from multiple constriction injuries. He had a very swollen right front flipper, with fishing line wrapped tightly at the shoulder. The line was cutting off circulation and needed to be carefully removed. Staff followed the rest of the fishing line and found that it was also entangled around the back flippers. After staff removed all of the line, they began to examine the wounded flipper. The front left flipper was missing from just above the elbow and appeared to have been caused by a predator attack. This most likely occurred after Scabbers was entangled, rendering him helpless to flee or fight back. Staff flushed all of his wounds and applied silver collasate, a silver-based topical ointment to help promote healing. Subcutaneous fluids were administered to help with rehydration, and he was started on a course of antibiotics. He was then placed in a bin with lots of foam and shallow water to rest comfortably overnight.
May 28, 2018: The following morning, Scabbers was put in a tank with shallow, low-salinity water. The lower salinity will help heal his wounds, and help with rehydration. As his wounds begin to heal he will have his salinity slowly increased, and as he begins to gain strength his water level will be raised. After a slow start with eating, Scabbers is now eating off of the bottom and foraging for his food! He’s mostly seen resting on the bottom but does have his moments of energy. Vet staff began cold laser therapy on his two front flippers. Cold laser therapy uses specific light wavelengths to help accelerate the healing process and decrease inflammation. Though Scabbers has a long road ahead of him, he has taken well to his new temporary home.
June 15, 2018: When staff pulled Scabbers at the end of May we noticed he had a significant amount of swelling all over his entire body. He put on 20 pounds of water weight, potentially from an infection caused by the entanglement wounds. He’s on a couple of different antibiotics to help fight the infection and is starting to look so much better. He lost some of the water weight so he is beginning to slough off some skin. Scabbers is continuing to get cold laser therapy on all of his flippers, and they’re all healing really well! He has moved up to half a tank of water and is really enjoying the new depth. He’s continuing to eat well, and he’s defecating daily! Though he’s definitely feeling a lot better, he still has a ways to go!
July 1, 2018: Scabbers is healing so well! He has finished his cold laser therapy, and the results are phenomenal. His missing flipper has healed over and has a layer of fibrin covering it! Fibrin is basically a sea turtle scab – it’s the first step of healing. The other 3 flippers that were entangled are healing well, too. His front right flipper still has a little more healing to do because it was more entangled than the others, but the 2 back flippers are looking great! Overall, we’re so amazed at the progress Scabbers has made after only being in our care for a month!
July 15, 2018: Scabbers is improving day by day. He has adjusted very well to swimming around without his front flipper. Staff is slowly increasing the water level to allow him time to adjust to the new depth. He recently had his water level increased to half a tank and is loving the extra room. He also loves to hang out in his head tube! He’s constantly resting or hiding inside of it.
August 1, 2018: Scabbers has moved up to Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery! Before he moved into his new tank, Scabbers got a physical exam. His missing flipper still has a little more healing to do but overall looks great. He’s slowly gaining weight and looks to be in good body condition. He really enjoys his new tank in Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery. Be sure to come in and see Scabbers!
August 15, 2018: Scabbers is doing wonderfully! He is going to be with us for a little while longer to continue gaining weight and healing his missing flipper.
September 1, 2018: Scabbers is slowly but surely healing his flipper. He’s gaining weight and eats great for us! He still loves to sleep in his head tube and scratch his back on his backscratcher.
October 1, 2018: Scabbers is doing about the same- wonderfully well! We are just continuing to give him more time for his flipper to heal, but it looks better each week!
October 15, 2018: Scabbers was recently pulled for an exam. His overall body condition looks awesome, and he’s gaining weight. He’s gained a total of 10 kilograms since admit, and he’s even grown in length a little, too! Come check out Scabbers in Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery today!
November 1, 2018: Scabbers continues to heal up well from his entanglement injuries. We offered some Halloween themed enrichment in the form of a pumpkin-shaped fish pop, and he ate it up!
November 15, 2018: Scabbers is still healing and loves to spend his day sleeping in his head tube. Did you know a resting sea turtle can stay under water for 4-7 hours? That’s a lot of time Scabbers can stay in his head tube! Volunteers commonly have to wake Scabbers up for his breakfast and lunch by lightly scratching his back with a scrub brush. Vet staff is continuing to monitor how his flippers are healing.
December 1, 2018: Scabbers is continuing to gain weight and heal his flipper. He loves to scratch his back on his backscratcher. Did you know sea turtles have almost the same sensation as you do on your fingernail? That means they can definitely feel a good backscratching!
December 15, 2018: Scabbers was pulled last week for a monthly check up. He is continuing to gain weight and is great body condition! His healing front flippers look phenomenal! Vet staff is really happy with how they are healing. We’re waiting on a little more keratin and coloration to form on them before he can go home. Make sure you come see Scabbers at the aquarium!
January 1, 2019: Scabbers is continuing to do great! He loves eating all of his breakfast — salmon is his favorite. If you come see him at the Aquarium he’ll probably be snoozing under his back scratcher! His flippers are continuing to heal daily. They’re starting to regain some color!
January 15, 2019: Scabbers will be pulled for another weight and measurement this week. If everything continues to look good, he’ll be a release candidate in the near future!
February 1, 2019: Scabbers was tagged for release on January 29th! This doesn’t mean he’s leaving us anytime soon, but he has reached the first step toward going home. His bloodwork was sent off, and the results will let us know if he’s healthy enough to go home. Our vet team would like to see a little more keratinization on his right front flipper before he goes. Make sure to stop by and see Scabbers before he goes back to the big ol’ blue!
February 15, 2019: Scabbers is doing great! He continues to have a hearty appetite, and his wounds are healing well. Come check out Scabbers in Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery!