Kemp’s Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)
Stranding Location: Beaufort, South Carolina
Arrival Date: 8/5/2021
Weight: 1.9 kg (4.18 lbs)
Turquoise was hooked late at night on August 4 by a fisher on the Marine Corps Air Station Base in Beaufort, South Carolina. The fisher cut the line near the mouth of the turtle and called authorities to report the incident. South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) sent a volunteer permit holder to retrieve the animal and assess its injuries. Since it was late at night and the animal was doing well overall, the permit holder kept the animal overnight until they could transport it to the South Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Care Center™. The following morning, Turquoise arrived midday for hook removal.
Turquoise was a teeny tiny turtle! He was in good body condition, but we could not see the hook or the fishing line which meant the turtle probably swallowed the hook. We took an x-ray and sure enough, there was a very large wide-gap hook almost in the stomach. We wanted to do surgery right away but due to some poor bloodwork we analyzed, we opted to wait one more day to make sure he was totally stable before we sedated and anesthetized him. On August 6, we did surgery to remove the hook from his throat. We went in through the underside of his neck, then into the esophagus. Rolling the esophagus like a sock, we followed the fishing line down to the hook’s eye. The rest of the surgery was incredibly difficult. Dr Shane had to try to remove the incredibly large hook without being fully exposed. After working at it for a bit, Dr. Shane Boylan finally removed the hook and immediately began closing up Turquoise’s throat. It is dangerous to keep a sea turtle under anesthesia for too long, as they may never wake up. So we like to work as quickly as we can. A few hours later, Turquoise was awake but not breathing too regularly on his own, so Dr. Shane Boylan monitored him overnight. Finally on Saturday August 7, Turquoise went into a tank of shallow water!
August 12, 2021: Turquoise has been recovering nicely since his admit. Today was the first day we offered him food since his arrival, and he ate it immediately! We were so excited and have high hopes for the rest of his recovery.
September 15, 2021: Turquoise has been doing really well these past few weeks. This month, Turquoise was upgraded to a full tank of water and has finished his antibiotics! Now that he has been with us for a while, Turquoise is getting a full diet every day and loving every part of it. Even though his incision site has healed well and the sutures came out all on their own, Turquoise still needs a little more time in rehab. Sea Turtle Care Center staff will monitor him closely and continue to get monthly weights and measurements.