Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)
Stranding Location: Hilton Head Island, SC
Arrival Date: 7/16/2017
Weight: 25.44 kg (56 pounds)
Sheldon was found stranded early Sunday morning on Hilton Head Island. This adult Kemp’s ridley was extremely lethargic and had an obvious boat strike wound to his carapace (top shell). Amber Kuehn, manager of HHI Sea Turtle Protection Project and South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) volunteer transporter, drove an hour and a half with Sheldon to meet Michelle Pate, Marine Turtle Program Coordinator with SCDNR, who transported Sheldon the rest of the way to the South Carolina Aquarium.
Sheldon arrived at the aquarium responsive but lethargic. Sheldon’s triage included a physical exam, blood draw and radiographs (x-ray) to better access the injury. Sheldon’s blood work looked great, and he was given fluids under the skin (subcutaneously) along with some vitamins for re-hydration. His carapacial fracture was flushed thoroughly to remove any debris, such as sand, and silver collasate, a silver based antimicrobial topical ointment, was applied. Sheldon was started on a course of antibiotics to combat any infection that might occur. After the initial triage was completed, he was placed on a waterbed to rest comfortably for the rest of the day. Sheldon is our second adult Kemp’s ridley sea turtle admitted this year! So far, the Sea Turtle Care Center (STCC) has only treated three adult Kemp’s ridley sea turtles since opening our doors in 2000.
July 23, 2017: Sheldon is responding well to supportive care! It took him a few days after admit to settle in, but now he is often seen cruising around his tank down in the Sea Turtle Hospital. Sheldon is eating extremely well and the boat strike fracture is on the mend. We are pulling Sheldon for an antibiotic injection and physical exam twice weekly.
August 1, 2017: Sheldon has been moved to a bigger tank downstairs and is really enjoying his new space! He now has so much room for activities. He’s constantly seen swimming around and splashing the floors, keeping us very busy down in the hospital. Sheldon is continuing to get antibiotics every 3 days and his boat strike wounds are healing well. The wound on his face is pretty swollen and red, but with some time he’ll be as good as new. He’s on the road to recovery!
August 15, 2017: Sheldon’s boat strike wound continues to heal, and he is almost done with his course of antibiotics. STCC staff is hopeful that he will be released by the end of summer!
September 15, 2017: Sheldon was recently taken out for an exam and blood pull. During the exam, some dead bone was removed from his boat strike wound. Overall the wound is healing wonderfully, and he’s continuing to improve. The results from his blood pull looked great! He’ll be getting tagged for release next week. Sheldon isn’t leaving us quite yet, but he’s getting ready to start packing his bags!
October 1, 2017: The STCC staff is happy to report that Sheldon has recently received a clean bill of health and has been medically cleared for release. We are hoping to release him and a few of the other patients this week! Keep an eye on the Aquarium’s social media pages for release details and information.