Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas)
Stranding Location: Mt. Gilead Canal, Murrells Inlet, SC
Arrival Date: 5/18/2019
Weight: 2.09 kg (4.6 pounds)
Peter Gerace found a tiny green sea turtle at the mouth of the Mt. Gilead Canal in Murrells Inlet, SC. Peter initially saw Simba struggling to dive in the water. Simba managed to make his way to a sand bar close by, and Peter was able to see how lethargic he was. Peter knew once he saw him on the sand bar something was wrong. He immediately contacted the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). SCDNR volunteer transporter, Terry Graham, met Peter and transported the turtle to the South Carolina Aquarium.
At admit, Simba was a little lethargic, underweight, and had a medium load of epibota covering his shell. Simba’s bloodwork showed he was dehydrated and CT and x-ray images showed a lot of gas and food inside of his GI track. The vet team was able to make out food items on the left side of the body and gas build up on the right side. The GI loops looked to be very large and with the presence of all the food, vet team was concerned about a possible impaction. Impactions can be caused by natural and foreign material that has blocked the intestines. This blockage can cause a backup or potentially rupture the intestines in severe situations. Since we don’t know for sure that it is an impaction, we’re going to give Simba some time to see if everything is moving along on its own. We wanted Simba to relax his first night so, after he received fluids, antibiotics, and vitamins, he rested in a waterbed over night.
May 22, 2019: The following day, Simba was put into a tank with low water. He initially was active but began to slow down after about an hour. He began to list with his right side up which matches the side he has all the gas on. We offered him a piece of food to see if he was interested in eating, and he didn’t want anything to do with it. A few days later he ate his first piece of food which can be a great sign. Although we’re concerned of an impaction the fact that he still wants food could mean that everything might be okay. Simba still hasn’t defecated, but hopefully everything will start moving along and the gas and other fecal will be pushed out!
June 15, 2019: Simba has been doing well. He seems to have passed the gas on his own as he’s seen resting on the bottom consistently. Simba has defecated a few times. Most of the fecal has been pretty small and no debris have been seen. Since he started defecating we were able to start offering veggies. He hasn’t come around to human vegetables quite yet, but it can take them some time since they don’t really eat romaine or dandelion greens in the wild. He loves to eat the protein though; he gobbles up fish quickly. Simba is in low water because he’s still a little weak. As he gets stronger, his water level will increase.
July 1, 2019: Simba gets a little stronger every day. Simba eats like a champ but isn’t the best about defecating. We recently found a parasite in his fecal called, Caryospora. This parasite can cause neurological issues in mass quantities and can even be fatal. Caryspora can be easily transmitted from one animal to another, so Simba is now quarantined to make sure we don’t spread the parasite on to another patient. We’re doing weekly checks on his fecals to see how his parasite load is doing. Once Simba becomes a little more stable, we will deworm him and hopefully get rid of the parasite.
July 16, 2019: Simba is starting to look more like a healthy turtle! He’s putting on weight is looking better each week!
August 1, 2019: Simba is doing well! His fecal has shown less Caryospora than in the past, which is great! We haven’t been able to deworm him yet because we are still waiting on his body condition to improve a little more. If he continues to get rid of them on his own, we might not have to! Simba has gotten a lot more active over the past couple weeks and seems to be feeling a lot better.
August 15, 2019: Simba’s body condition has finally improved enough for us to treat the parasite Caryospora that’s present in his fecals. He is slowly, but surely putting on weight and we are giving him lots of veggies and protein to help his body heal and recover.
September 1, 2019: Simba has received two doses of dewormer, called Ponazuril, that he takes like a champ. Ponazuril is a liquid that we dose out into a small capsule and place inside a piece of fish. Sometimes the turtles figure out what we are doing, eat the fish, and spit out the capsule. Simba makes things easy by taking his all in one bite. Now that he’s started his deworming we’re examining his fecal once a week to look for any parasites that may be present. Otherwise, Simba is doing great!
October 1, 2019: This week, Simba was pulled for a full examination, a blood pull, and he was also P.I.T. tagged. Though he might not be ready for release quite yet, tagging him will expedite the process when he is ready. His body condition has improved tremendously since his arrival, and he has a beautiful shell! We are awaiting his bloodwork results before any final release decision is made. Way to go, Simba!
October 15, 2019: Simba will be with us for a couple more months after his bloodwork didn’t meet our standards for release. Staying with us through the winter will give him time to work on his bloodwork levels — And really, who doesn’t love a free place to live with great food?
November 1, 2019: Simba is doing great! He continues to hide in his carwash strips and gobble up all his veggies. We’re still checking his fecal every of weeks, but it has been parasite-free for several months now. continue to check his fecal, just to be on the safe side, because the parasite can go a while shedding before starting back again.
November 15, 2019: Simba is still cruising! He likes to spend his day hiding in his sea grass enrichment and zipping around his tank. He’s continuing to grow and gain weight.
December 1, 2019: Simba as doing great! He will receive another exam and blood pull to see how his blood values stand so we can reevaluate his release in January. Don’t worry, Simba will be staying with us for a little bit longer!
December 15, 2019: Last week, we moved Simba into Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery (*cue Lion King Theme music*). Simba’s physical exam looks great, and we will evaluate him for release in the New Year. Come check out this little cutie!
January 1, 2020: Simba was pulled for a weight check and physical exam, and all looks good! He’s continuing to gain weight, and grown and hopefully will be pulled for a pre-release work up in the near future!
January 15, 2020: Earlier this week, Simba was pulled for another check on his bloodwork to evaluate his overall health. Fingers crossed that Simba’s bloodwork comes back within normal limits, so that he’s one step closer to getting released!