Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)
Stranding Location: Kiawah Island, SC
Arrival Date: 8/6/2019
Weight: 9.5 lbs
Shenzi was hooked by a surf fisherman early in the afternoon on Tuesday, August 8, 2019. Cindy Lockhart, a South Carolina Department of Natural Resources permit holder responded to the call and rescued this little guy off the beach. Shenzi was then transported to the South Carolina Aquarium by SCDNR staff member Michelle Pate. Once Shenzi arrived, Sea Turtle Care Center (STCC) staff began triaging quickly to assess the severity of the fisheries interaction.
Staff took radiographs to get a better idea of the location of the hook. Radiographs showed that there were two very large J hooks attached to metal leader lines in Shenzi’s throat. Staff took measurements, analyzed her blood, did a full physical exam to look for any other injuries and administered antibiotics, vitamins, and fluids. Overall, Shenzi was not in terrible health and the radiograph showed that she had been eating lots of crabs and small whelks in the days prior to stranding. Once Shenzi had been examined and all else looked good, vet staff set their sights on removing the two hooks. The location of the hook is very important, as they can sometimes be removed with only some light sedation. In more complicated cases, the animal has to be fully anesthetized to make an incision into the esophagus from the underside of the throat for removal. Dr. Shane Boylan wanted to avoid surgery since the recovery time can be difficult so he began trying to remove the hooks from the throat. In less than 30 minutes, both hooks were out! Shenzi recovered from sedation quickly and spent the night resting in a shallow waterbed.
August 13, 2019: Shenzi was fasted for five days to allow her throat to heal from the wounds caused by the hooks and the hook removal procedure. We have started offering food, but so far she has not been interested in it. It is not uncommon for turtles to take a few days to start eating. Shenzi is constantly swimming in her tank, and we have high hopes that she will recover quickly!
September 1, 2019: Shenzi has been doing really well since her admit. She is swimming around all the time and has begun to eat regularly! So far, Shenzi has no lasting effects from the hooks and the removal process, but we will continue to monitor her closely.