Kemp’s Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)
Stranding Location: Huntington Beach State Park, South Carolina
Arrival Date: 9/28/2021
Weight: 2.33 kg (5.1 lbs)
Sodalite was hooked by a fisher in the surf on Huntington Beach State Park. The fisher reeled Sodalite up onto the sand and contacted the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). SCDNR permit holder, Vickki Hardwick, was dispatched to respond to the call and picked up Sodalite from the beach. From there, Vickki made the long drive to Charleston to transport this Kemp’s to the Sea Turtle Care Center ™ for hook removal.
Sodalite was active upon arrival and, while a bit thin, not in terrible body condition. Care Center staff took blood, a heart rate, monitored respiration rate and took radiographs. The hook was deep in the back of the throat and was very large. Bloodwork indicated that the animal was mildly anemic, dehydrated but stable enough to do the hook removal immediately. Sodalite was sedated and their heart rate was closely monitored throughout the procedure. After a few attempts, Dr. Shane was able to manipulate the hook enough to remove it without surgery. We administered a reversal to the sedation medication, but Sodalite’s heart rate was very low. They stopped breathing without stimulation and we had to intubate them for about an hour. Once Sodalite was able to breath on their own and had recovered from the effects of sedative, they were left to rest comfortably in a foam-padded bin overnight.
September 29, 2021: The morning following the hook removal, Sodalite was moved into a tank with shallow water and was very bright and alert throughout the day. At end of the day, Care Center staff was surprised to find several pieces of marine debris and plastics in the bottom of their tank. Luckily, Sodalite was able to pass these pieces through their defecation, but we will be monitoring her defecations closely to make sure there are no other pieces passed. Sodalite will be fasted for the rest of the week so that their esophagus gets some time to heal from the trauma caused by the hook. We will slowly increase their water level as they acclimate to their temporary new home.
October 15, 2021: Fortunately, Sodalite has not passed any more plastics or marine debris since admit. Though it took a few days to get them to start eating, they are now getting regular diet increases and are in a full-depth tank. Sodalite is still receiving antibiotic injections.
November 15, 2021: Sodalite has been doing well overall, except that they are super picky about vitamins. Sodalite will stop eating if they detect any vitamins in their diet, so we have had to change up how we offer them and are putting them in the last few pieces of fish in their diet to ensure that they eat the vitamins. So far, we have had really great success with that!
January 15, 2022: Sodalite has been doing well! We will be pulling him for a weight and measurement later this month. Other than that, Sodalite has been cruising and we hope that he will be a release candidate this spring.
February 15, 2022: Sodalite is looking great! Since last month, they have gained some weight and started leaving a few pieces of food here and there. For this reason, staff decided to decrease their diet to see if they were just getting full! So far that seems to have done the trick. Until Sodalite’s ready for release, staff will continue to monitor them closely.
March 15, 2022: Sodalite has been cruising since our last update! We will be pulling them soon to recheck their bloodwork to better evaluate their release status. Fingers crossed they will be returning to the big blue soon!
April 5, 2022: After seven months in rehab, Sodalite was released back into the ocean! They made a full recovery and were released at Little Talbot Island State Park in Florida! During this time of year, we typically have to release our turtles a little further south due to colder water temperatures off our shore. Sodalite took off like a rocket and looked great!