Wapoo | South Carolina Aquarium


Jul 11


Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii)

Stranding Location: Cherry Grove Pier, North Myrtle Beach, SC
Arrival Date: 6/28/2020
Age: Juvenile
Weight: 4.18 lbs (1.9kg)

Case History

Wapoo was caught on hook and line by a fisherman who was fishing on his boat directly under the famous Ravenel Bridge. The fisherman contacted South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) and SCDNR permit holders Mary Pringle and Barb Gobien responded to the call, and they met the fisherman at the Mt. Pleasant Pier. Wapoo was very quickly transported to the South Carolina Aquarium for hook removal.


Wapoo was very energetic and a tiny, but mighty, Kemp’s weighing only about 4lbs! The line to Wapoo’s hook was cut at the leader, and x-rays showed us that it was large and pretty far back in his esophagus. Wapoo’s bloodwork looked great, and he was given a light sedation to attempt to remove the hook without surgery. Given the hooks location, and Wapoo’s small size, Dr. Lauren and Dr. Shane knew this was going to be a tricky removal. A rigid endoscope was used to help visualize the location of the eye of the hook, and after several attempts, the hook was finally removed from his throat. Since the line was cut from the hook, the removal process was longer than normal and made for a more difficult removal. We usually tell fisherman to leave at least a foot of line and to tape it to the shell so the hook does not continue to go deeper in the esophagus. After the removal, Wapoo was given subcutaneous fluids (under the skin) with vitamins and was also started on antibiotics. Wapoo was left to sleep off the sedation drugs in wet dock overnight.


July 1, 2020: Wapoo was very alert and active the day after admit. Dr. Shane wanted Wapoo fasted for 5 days to allow his esophagus to rest and heal. The removal was tricky and the area was likely very sore. Wapoo is in a shallow water tank and we will begin offering him food at the end of week. Let’s hope he’s not a hangry turtle!

July 15, 2020: This adorable little turtle has stolen our hearts! He has come a long way since his complicated hook removal surgery, and he is now eating great and swimming in a full depth tank. He still has a few more antibiotic treatments left, but he is making great strides in his recovery process. 

August 15, 2020: Wapoo is the best little turtle. We don’t have favorites (we secretly have favorites…) but Wapoo has given us many reasons to be a favorite! He eats well, defecates regularly and sleeps like the cutest animal you’ve ever seen. Wapoo’s throat is healing well from the hook removal so we are positive he will have a relatively easy rehab stay.  

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