Kemp’s Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)
Stranding Location: Myrtle Beach State Park
Arrival Date: 5/21/22
Weight: 3.33 kg (7.33 lbs)
Sunshine was caught on a fish hook at the Myrtle Beach State Park Pier. Once the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) was notified, Vickki Hardwick (a permitted volunteer) transported the juvenile Kemp’s ridley to the Sea Turtle Care Center ™.
As soon as the Kemp’s ridley arrived at the Care Center, staff knew this little one was a fighter. They were very feisty despite having a fish hook in their esophagus. Upon intake, staff got a heart rate, counted respiration rates, administered fluids/vitamins/antibiotics, got a blood sample and took a radiograph. The diagnostic imaging gave staff an idea of how deep the hook was located. It was determined that the turtle was stable enough to have the hook removed that evening. Dr. Lauren was able to remove the hook quickly and only needed light sedation. Post-sedation, Sunshine was pretty quiet but that was to be expected. Staff decided to give Sunshine a good night’s rest in a wet dock before putting them in a tank the next day.
May 22, 2022: The next morning Sunshine was more alert. Normally we start turtles out in very shallow water. However, Sunshine was exceptionally active and alert so it was decided to try them in a half a tank of water. To no one’s surprise, they looked great! They were very active, swimming throughout the entire water column, and even defecated already! We want to give their esophagus a little time to heal before offering food, but here’s to hoping that when we do, they will gobble it up!
June 15, 2022: We started offering Sunshine a few pieces of fish after their esophagus had some time to heal. Initially they were not very interested, but since then, they have started eating like a champ! They have even started getting vitamins. That’s not the only good news; you can now see Sunshine in Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery™!
July 15, 2022: Sunshine looks great up in Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery! There is some wearing on their marginal scutes, potentially from swimming up against the tank walls. But no need to fret, they are healing nicely and our vet team is unconcerned. We are giving Sunshine a little more time to gain weight before evaluating them for release!