Wadmalaw | South Carolina Aquarium


Jul 11


Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)

Stranding Location: Wadmalaw Island, SC

Arrival Date: 07/11/2007

Age: juvenile

Weight: 1.96 kg (4.3 pounds)

Case History

This is our second really small Kemp’s ridley sea turtle caught on hook and line by a fisherman on Wadmalaw Island in a week! The hook was lodged in his tongue and the fisherman was unable to remove it. The turtle was kept for a couple of days while DNR was contacted and the transfer was scheduled.


The turtle went for surgery the day he arrived at the turtle hospital. Under full anesthesia, the hook was removed from the mouth successfully. There are several areas on the plastron where bone is exposed. We do not know what caused these abrasions. Initial treatment includes antibiotic injections, vitamin injections and trying to get the turtle to eat. At this point, he/she is floating and seems to have little energy.


2 August 2007: Wadmalaw is not fairing well. He has barely eaten since coming to the hospital and we have had to tube feed every other day. X-rays show bone degeneration in several flipper joints and he barely uses his limbs. Physical therapy is being done to keep the flippers from becoming atrophied. We’re doing everything possible to help this little fellow!

25 September 2007: We have been so worried that this little guy was not going to make it but he has just shown his first interest in eating food. This is a huge step in the right direction!

27 January 2008: Wadmalaw has been getting a little more movement back in his flippers. Staff and volunteers give physical therapy and this seems to be helping. We are finally not seeing any further degeneration in the joints through radiographs. 5 sets of radiographs have been taken to track the effects of this infection. A CT scan was also performed (photo attached) to get a better idea of what is really happening at joints.

19 May 2008: Wadmalaw is doing well! The front left flipper still has limited movement and PT is done several times per week. Time is this animal’s friend…

28 August 2008: Wadmalaw has had some fishes swimming in the tank with him for several months now. This not only provides stimulation for him but also some competition for food. Wadmalaw is quite the eater these days and races for the food!

10 December 2008: Wadmalaw continues to thrive at the Aquarium’s turtle hospital. He now has another tank mate, Winyah! Winyah is another small Kemp’s ridley. We put them together to make space for the cold stunned sea turtles from North Carolina.

4 May 2009: Wadmalaw finally has his tank all to himself again. No more having to share a room with the CRAZY Kemp’s ridley, Winyah! It reminds me of when I was growing up and having to share bedrooms with my sisters…oh, how I wished I had a room of my own!

15 July 2009: Wadmalaw is being released with 2 other turtles on Sunday, July 26th at Beachwalker County Park on Kiawah Island! Carpooling is recommended and parking fees apply. Come join us!!!

Release Date


Release Location

Isle of Palms County Park, SC

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