TOPSAIL ISLAND, NORTH CAROLINA, USA

SMYRNA   Loggerhead 
(Caretta caretta)
Juvenile
Admitted 6/30/98
Age 5-7 years
Stranding Date:  6/24/98
Released:          10/27/99
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           Injuries 7/1/98
   Injuries as of 4/1/99
Ready for release 10/99
THE INJURY or ILLNESS: This sea turtle was found near the mouth of Wade Creek in Smyrna, NC.  The are injuries are consistent with boat propeller cuts.  The wounds run the length of the carapace on both sides of the spine.
THE 
TREATMENT
The sea turtle was transported to the North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine.  Here the carapace and wounds were cleaned and dead tissue removed.  The spinal column had been nicked in one area.
    Initially, there was radiographic evidence of spinal cord trauma and it was thought the sea turtle was paralyzed from the injury. Euthanasia seemed the only option.   However after an observation period of about two days the turtle's flippers started to move.
The veterinary doctors and students then repaired the carapace. Dr. Denis Marcellin designed anapplied large orthopedic plates and two sets of stainless steel screws and wires to stabilize the carapace.  The hardware for such an undertaking, which runs about $1,000.00,  has been loaned to us by the College of Veterinary Medicine as well as donating all labor costs.
The KBSTRRC received this sea turtle 6/30/98.  The wounds are packed with gauze and then covered with 3 full sheets of Tegaderm, an artificial (human) skin.  The wounds need to be debrided every 3-4 days, flushed, repacked with gauze and covered with Tegaderm. Additionally the turtle received injections of Amikacin and Clindamycine.
THE PROGNOSIS: Smyrna is now able to be fully submerged in water to her great delight.  She continues to move her flippers.  She is eating on her own.  The ability of the sea turtles to heal from these grotesque wounds is amazing.  But the recovery has only just begun.  There are more steps to be taken before we can be sure everything is functioning as it should.
THE UPDATE:
9/10/98
Smyrna is a very peppy sea turtle.  She endured the wound debridement like the trooper she is.  The wounds continue to heal.
UPDATE  4/99
Each week Smyrna's wounds are cleaned and debrided.  Each week we marvel at the healing process.  This month we were able to remove the large plates which initially held the injured carpace in place.
click on image below for enlargement
All hands on deck         Ready to remove plates and 18 screws              Plates removed     Holes and indentations from plates
UPDATE  10/20/99
The good doctors and students form the NCSU College of Veterinary medicine pay a visit.  Smyrna gets the pre-release once over:  Blood draw, pit tags, weights and measures.
RELEASE  10/27/99
 Smyrna was released on a gorgeous sunny warm day, along with
Windy, Bettie and JR.
Smyrna parts crowd while volunteers give her a lift to the water.


Happy Camper in the water 4/99
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11/1/99