Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas)
Stranding Location: Myrtle Beach State Park, SC
Arrival Date: 5/11/2019
Weight: 2.7 kg (6 pounds)
Timon was found stranded by Myrtle Beach State Park rangers who were out doing sea turtle nest inventories. Park rangers observed how weak and thin Timon was and contacted South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. Luckily, this little green was quickly transported to the South Carolina Aquarium by Linda Mataya of the North Myrtle Beach Sea Turtle Patrol team.
Upon admit, Timon was incredibly thin, weak, and in very critical condition. Timon had chronic Debilitated Turtle Syndrome (DTS). Bloodwork indicated that he was severely dehydrated and had a low glucose level, among other issues; he had been sick for a long time. Timon was given lots of fluids to begin rehydrating him, emergency drugs to help increase his heart rate, and was started on antibiotics to help prevent any further infection present in his body. The tissue on his front flippers was covered in fibrin, and was sloughing off; we usually see this in very debilitated turtles. Timon’s prognosis was very guarded given his bloodwork results and overall body condition. After he was triaged, he was left to rest comfortably on a foam waterbed and staff checked on him throughout the night.
May 12, 2019: Timon pulled through the night, but was still very weak.
His glucose (blood sugar level) was rechecked and had stabilized; more fluids were administered to continue to rehydrate him. Timon was offered food, but showed no interest. Because he was in such a debilitated state and had no energy to move except to take breaths. Knowing that turtles are more comfortable when in water, staff built him a kiddie pool that was able to float and have filtered water move through it so he could be in a filtered tank and more comfortable while resting. Timon still has not shown interest in food and will continue to receive fluid therapy, and we will keep his tank water at a lower salinity to help rehydrate him as well. His prognosis is highly guarded as he is a very critical patient.
May 30, 2019: Timon has made great strides since our last update! He was so dehydrated that he was receiving fluids daily. He was also put on another antibiotic, and cold laser therapy was started to help the skin on his flippers heal. He has an area on top of his head with exposed bone that is also receiving laser treatment. Timon finally started eating, defecating and has really perked up over the last week. We were able to remove the kiddie pool because he was strong enough to swim in shallow water. Hopefully this positive trend continues with this little guy!
June 15, 2019: Over the past two weeks, Timon has grown stronger. He’s no longer in a kiddie pool and is swimming at almost at half a tank! When Timon came in, he had some open wounds along his front flippers which we treated each time he was pulled for an injection. Greens and kemps are prone to osteomyelitis (bone infection) in the joints of their flippers, especially if there is already a wound present and they’re immune-comprised. About two weeks ago we noticed that his elbow joint on his right front flipper was getting swollen, and when we took an x-ray we saw that the bone was starting to break down from the infection. There was a small area on the elbow that had fibrin over it but it came off, exposing his joint. Timon was sedated and Dr. Shane surgically debrided it, removing infection materials from it to help it heal. He packed it with lots of products to help aid in healing and now has a tegaderm bandage over it. Timon is on additional antibiotics to help get rid of this infection. Thankfully, he’s a tough turtle though — as soon as we put him back in his tank, he started eating right away and swimming. Timon continues to be one of our more critical patients but is hanging in there!
July 1, 2019: We are continuing to treat the osteomyelitis in Timon’s right front flipper. Timon finished his second antibiotic and is still being pulled to treat the exposed area on his flipper every few days. Timon had to be sedated for another surgical debridement of that area to help get the infectious tissue out. An osteomyelitis infection this severe can be tricky to get rid of, and often takes a long time to heal. Timon is taking this like a champ though, and continues to eat well and is active in his tank.
July 16, 2019: Timon continues to improve. After his surgical debridement of the osteomyelitis in his front flipper we have been monitoring the wound’s condition carefully. Since the joint was open to the environment we were keeping it covered and keeping his water as clean as possible to prevent any further or worse infection. We were able to get Kerecis fish skin to graft onto the wound to promote naturally occurring skin regeneration. Timon is a trooper and still eating great and using his flipper easily. He is a champ!
August 1, 2019: Over the past few weeks, Timon has continued to improve. We believe his flipper is now strong enough to sustain swimming activity in deeper water so we are slowly increasing the depth in his tank. He continues to eat really well, and his behavior indicates that he is not uncomfortable in any way. We are monitoring his defecations carefully though, as it does not seem he is digesting his veggies properly. Turtles take a long time to recover, and Timon was very sick when he arrived, so it may take months for his digestive system to catch up. We are supplementing Timon’s diet with plenty of vitamins and protein to help him gain weight and get the nutrients he needs to recover and healed.
August 15, 2019: Timon hit a major milestone in the last week: he is finally in a full water tank! When Timon was first moved into a tank, he spent the majority of his first month with us in a floating kiddie pool because he was too weak to swim for long periods of time. We are so proud of the progress he’s made in the last month!
September 1, 2019: In preparation for Hurricane Dorian, we moved Timon to a tank in Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery. He is doing great in his new tank, which is slightly larger than one in the ICU. Timon’s right front flipper is still a little swollen, but overall looks incredible. X-rays show the presence of the infection is gone and the bone is starting to heal. Way to go, Timon!
October 1, 2019: Last week, Timon was pulled from his tank for a scheduled weight and measurement check to examine his body condition, a routine we do with all our patients. Timon is continuously gaining weight, and his wounds are healing nicely! On his front flipper, where the infection got into his elbow joint, the wound is totally healed. We are so happy with Timon’s progress and expect continuous improvement!
November 1, 2019: Timon is finally up to about 9 pounds in weight! He is very active and is usually fed some veggies during our daily Turtle Talks, so if you’re planning to visit Timon, you might catch him munchin’ down!
December 1, 2019: Staff recently found a suspicious growth on Timon’s plastron. After removing and analyzing the growth, we have confirmed it is positive for Fibropapillomatosis (FP). This is a fairly common virus in juvenile green sea turtles and is highly contagious. Timon has been moved to a tank in our basement hospital for quarantine. Besides this, he is doing very well!
December 15, 2019: Timon has been doing well since being moved into our basement ICU. We are monitoring him closely and, luckily, have not seen any FP regrowths yet!
January 1, 2020: We are continuing to monitor Timon’s tumor site. We are keeping an eye out for any regrowth in the same area, but also anywhere else on his body. Otherwise, Timon is doing very well and continues to eat and defecate regularly!
January 15, 2020: Timon has been smooth sailing these past few weeks. The site on his plastron where we removed the tumor is healing beautifully. We are monitoring that spot as well as the rest of his body for any more tumor growth. Timon has gained nearly 8 pounds since he arrived to the Sea Turtle Care Center! We are so happy with how healthy he has become in his time here. Send some positive vibes that he continues to improve!
February 1, 2020: Recently we pulled Timon out of his tank for a regular weight and measurement exam. We do these (at least) monthly on stable patients to monitor any wounds they had, obtain a weight, and measure their shell to make sure they are healing and gaining/growing steadily. Timon is an overachiever growing 8 centimeters and gaining nearly 9 pounds since his admit last May! This growth and weight gain is actually much too fast for staff to be comfortable with so we have lowered his diet to slow it down. Luckily, Timon does not have any signs of adverse effects from the weight gain and growth which is a good sign. Timon is actually very healthy looking! We also examined the location where we previously removed an FP tumor from his plastron and it looked good except for a small spot of possible regrowth. We also found a tiny pap growth on his left eye. Eye tumors are tricky to remove so we will begin consulting a veterinarian with more experience removing eye tumors to get this off as quickly as we can and get Timon back out into the ocean!
February 15, 2020: Timon has been smooth sailing the past two weeks! We plan to remove the tumor on his eye very soon. Luckily, it is a simple procedure that we can do in house which will be best for all parties involved.
March 1, 2020: This past week, Timon had the fibropapilloma tumor removed from his eye. The procedure was quick and the tumor came off easily! We will continue to monitor him for more growths and hopefully release him soon!
March 15, 2020: Timon is doing well! He had an exam last week and the tumor on his eye has grown back. We’ll be scheduling a second procedure to remove the tumor soon.
April 1, 2020: Timon continues to just keep swimming! We will be pulling him out soon for a weight and measurement exam. During this time, we’ll get a good look at the tumor on his eye and thoroughly look for any more on his body. Overall, Timon is a Rockstar about eating his veggies and takes vitamins like a champ!
May 1, 2020: Timon is doing well. He’s grown quite a bit during his time with us! At the beginning of April, during a weight and measurement check, staff noted the tumor on his eye had regrown. We scheduled another removal procedure for April 7th. The procedure was quick and went well! This week staff got a good look at the tumor while Timon was eating and noted that it had again regrown. We will be setting up another procedure to remove the tumor. Overall, Timon is continuing to do great and proves to be the least picky turtle we have right now! He loves all of his veggies and even eats his vitamins off the bottom of the tank. Timon gets all the gold stars!
June 1, 2020: Timon has continued to do well this past month. We are continuing to monitor the growth of the tumor on his eye and are keeping an eye out for more tumors on other parts of his body. We are evaluating other methods of tumor removal for the one on the eye to make sure it does not grow back in the future.
July 15, 2020: At the end of last month, our veterinary team performed a procedure to surgically remove the regrowth of fibropapilloma tissue from Timon’s left eye. They also used liquid nitrogen cryotherapy to ensure all of the diseased tissue was gone. To date, the eye looks great, and we have not seen any regrowth. We will continue to monitor Timon in hopes that he will fully recover and be suitable for release in the future.
September 15, 2020: Timon was recently moved to a larger tank in the hospital and is loving his spacious new digs! The area on Timon’s plastron where the fibropapilloma tumor was removed is healing nicely. We’ve noticed the smallest amount of regrowth on the eye, and therefore our vet staff plans to do a quick procedure in the next couple of weeks to remove it, before it develops further.
August 15, 2020: Timon was sedated last week to have some newer fibropapilloma regrowths removed from his plastron. While he was sedated, our vet team also evaluated his eye, and it appears that he is having some regrowth there as well. We will have to do a more aggressive surgery to remove the pap from his eye. We will be scheduling a procedure for that in the near future.
December15, 2020: No major updates for Timon. We are continuing to monitor his FP tumor sites for any new growth.
January 15, 2021: Timon has been doing well overall. He is active and eating and defecating great. We have been monitoring the slow regrowth of the fibropapilloma tumor on his left eye. The goal is to allow the tumor to grow large enough to get leverage to remove it completely. Next week, Timon will receive a thorough eye exam with our vet staff and Dr. Cook, the veterinary ophthalmologist, to assess the tumor and the best plan for surgically removing it to avoid further regrowth.