Stranding Location: Cape Island, SCArrival Date: 05/16/2015Age: Sub-adultWeight: 56.8 kg (~112 lb.)
Diligent US Fish & Wildlife staff and volunteers conducting loggerhead nesting patrols on the remote, undeveloped beaches of Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge came across this large sea turtle upside down on the beach at the high tide line. Since this animal was clearly in distress, FWS staff immediately righted the turtle and contacted the SC Department of Natural Resources to coordinate the rescue effort. FWS staff transferred this large loggerhead into a small boat used to access the roadless barrier islands of the Refuge and expertly navigated the boat through miles of marshland waters to an accessible dock in McClellanville. This loggerhead was then transferred to Mary Pringle and Barb Gobien, permitted transport volunteers from the Isle of Palms turtle team, who drove the turtle to our hospital for treatment.
Our vet and a staff biologist were waiting to begin immediate treatment on this loggerhead named “Sewee.” Luckily, FWS efforts to keep the turtle at an appropriate temperature were successful in preventing hyperthermia, which can easily be deadly to ectothermic sea turtles. Sewee’s heart rate was fairly strong at 20 beats per minute upon admission, although her blood work (PCV 12, total solids 2.1) was poor enough to classify her as afflicted with Debilitated Turtle Syndrome (DTS). Initial treatments included subcutaneous fluids, IV hetastarch, and injectable vitamins and antibiotics. Prognosis is fair.
27 May 2015: Sewee was still unusually lethargic several days after admission, which prompted our team to look for other complications and perform x-rays. We quickly discovered that her intestinal tract was full of sand, which is an unusual occurrence in debilitated loggerheads and certainly a reason for concern. Although Sewee was hungry, we limited her food intake to just one piece of mackerel daily. Finally, on May 24th, she passed nearly one cup’s worth of large grain sand; another fecal on the 26th was also composed almost entirely of sand. This is great news as, once we can confirm that this loggerhead’s gut is free of sand, we can begin slowly increasing her diet and providing her body with the nutrients it needs to heal.13 June 2015: Because of the massive influx of sick and injured turtles being admitted into the Sea Turtle Hospital, Portia, Sewee, Socastee and Miss Pine were transferred to the Karen Beasley Rescue and Rehabilitation Center to finish their rehabilitation. We are grateful to Jean Beasley and her team for helping us in such a busy time.