Waffle | South Carolina Aquarium


Jun 06


Green (Chelonia mydas)

Stranding Location: Garden City, SC
Arrival Date: 4/30/24
Age: Juvenile
Sex: Unknown
Weight: 1.97 kg (4.33 lbs.)

Case History

This little green stranded on the beach in Garden City, and it was clear that s/he needed to come to the Sea Turtle Care Center™ for treatment. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources was contacted and a permitted member of the Garden City Surfside S.C.U.T.E team safely transported the turtle to Charleston.


Upon arrival, it was clear that this crusty little green had been sick for a long time. Waffle was covered in various epibiota and was dangerously emaciated. S/he had ulcers on both eyes, very thin flippers and a concave plastron. Blood samples and physical exams suggested that Waffle needed to be treated with antibiotics, eye drops, fluids, vitamins, dextrose (sugar) and calcium. We took diagnostic imaging to get a better overall picture of what was causing this decline in health. CT imaging and an ultrasound showed severe pneumonia, constipation and a lot of gas throughout the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Overall, this turtle has a lot going against her/him.

Even though Waffle was in very poor condition, we were seeing a decent heart rate and good breaths, so we decided to try the turtle in water. If a patient can tolerate being in water, it’s always a better option to be in their natural environment, and we tend to see better/quicker responses in healing. We started Waffle in a shallow kiddie pool for a few hours, and s/he did decently. However, we did not feel confident that this patient could tolerate being in water overnight, so we decided to set Waffle up in a wet dock.


May 2, 2024: Waffle continues to be weak and lethargic but is tolerating shallow water in a kiddie pool. We were pleasantly surprised when Waffle ate two small pieces of fish for us this morning. Typically, we don’t see turtles that are this sick eat for at least several days, but the sooner our patients start eating the better, so we are thrilled! Even though this is a win, we still have an incredibly long way to go with Waffle and the prognosis is still very guarded. Please wish Waffle the best as s/he navigates the rehabilitation process!

May 15, 2024:  Eating and gaining weight is critical for Waffle to fight infection and the pneumonia. Unfortunately, Waffle is eating very slowly, taking small bites and mashing her/his food. This tiny turtle is still very weak, but we have been able to swim her/him outside of the kiddie pool in very shallow water for short periods of time for exercise. As s/he starts to gain more weight it will help improve energy levels and allow Waffle to be placed in deeper water. For now, Waffle gets around well in shallow water where s/he can push off the bottom to raise her/his head to the surface to breathe.

June 15, 2024: Waffle had a recheck CT scan this month, with concerning results. This little turtle’s pneumonia has worsened, despite being on antibiotics. What this likely means is that the pneumonia is fungal instead of bacterial. In order to combat this severe fungal pneumonia, Waffle has been started on daily nebulization treatment, which allows her/him to breathe antifungal medication directly into the lungs. This treatment is provided in addition to an oral antifungal medication that we can hide in fish pieces. Keep your flippers crossed for Waffle, because this tiny turtle has a long journey ahead.

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