Vader | South Carolina Aquarium


Aug 19


Loggerhead (Caretta caretta)

Stranding Location: Found in-water in Caper’s Inlet

Arrival Date: August 10th, 2016

Age: sub-adult

Weight: 122 lbs

Case History

This sub-adult loggerhead was found by Barrier Island Eco Tours, a naturalist guided boat tour that explores the saltmarshes and barrier islands around Charleston. The turtle was struggling at the surface of the water entangled in a net. Thankfully, the tour captain was able to cut the net free. The SCDNR sea turtle hotline was called and the injured turtle was transported to the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Hospital by two longtime SCDNR and Aquarium volunteers, Barb Gobien and Barb Bergwerf.


The net entanglement caused deep lacerations around the neck and both front flippers which led our team to believe it had been there for an extended period of time. The rescue team pulled blood for a full analysis and obtained a heart rate and morphometrics. After the administration of pain management drugs, the lacerations were carefully assessed, cleaned and treated. Darth Vader™, the villain in the popular Star Wars™ films, was the inspiration for Vader’s name, because when s/he takes a breath, a sound is made that can only be described as sounding like “Darth Vader”.  With several antibiotics on board to treat the pneumonia and skin infections, we are hopeful that Vader can make a full recovery!



August 11, 2016: A CT scan donated by Charleston Veterinary Referral Center confirmed a case of mild bilateral aspiration pneumonia, which was most likely caused by the inhalation of salt water from being entangled in the net. The CT scan also showed that Vader’s trachea was not damaged, which was an initial concern upon admit. Vader has started eating and hospital staff are raising the water level little by little each day.

The net rope removed from neck and flippers
September 13, 2016: The lacerations on Vader’s neck and front flippers are healing up much more quickly than expected! Vader also seems to have lost the raspy breathing that was heard the first few weeks after admittance. Before Vader is cleared for release, however, Vader will have to undergo another CT to make sure the lungs are clear and free of bilateral pneumonia. Vader has finished all courses of antibiotics and is eating like a champ!September 30, 2016: A physical examination, including weight and measurements, was conducted last week with hospital staff, interns and Dr. Boylan. Thankfully, no raspy breathing was heard, meaning that the pneumonia may be resolving. This is great news and will hopefully be confirmed with a follow-up CT scan in the near future.


October 17, 2016: Vader continues to be a great eater and a very active turtle. One of his favorite activities is scratching his back on the PVC backscratchers! Vader will be going offsite later this month to get a repeat CT scan so hospital staff can better assess the state of his pneumonia.November 3, 2016: Last week, Vader went offsite for another CT scan. No audible raspy breathing was heard during the procedure. Results show clear lungs and no sign of pneumonia. Due to these great results, Vader may be our next candidate for release!November 20, 2016: Vader was pulled for a weigh-in and blood work this week. His lacerations are healing beautifully and his blood work and weight look fantastic! Hopefully Vader will be releasable in the near future!

Release Date

December 8, 2016

Release Location

40 Miles offshore

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