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 SOUTHPORT


LEMP'S RIDLEY

Lk

Juvenile

  ADMIT
DEC 14, 2005
RELEAESED SEPT 20. 2006
Weight  4.5 kg  
SCL:  25.1 cm  
SCW:  22.9 cm  
THE STRANDING

Soon after admission, Southport agrees to an interview with turtle whisperer Karen Sota.


Karen Sota: Hola, Southport.

Southport: Hola, Senorita Sota. 

KS: You’re a long way from home for a Kemp’s Ridley, aren’t you?

S: You can say that again!


KS: Practically all Kemp’s Ridleys are born in Rancho Nuevo, Mexico, on the Gulf Coast. How is it you ended up stranded in Southport, NC, and in the wintertime?

S: I’m just a little squirt, about 2 years old. Maybe I haven’t had enough life experience to know any better. You can bet that next year I won’t make this same mistake.

 
KS: Can you tell us about your rescue?

S: A nice man named Chuck Nelson saw me floating near the intake structure at the Progress Energy steam electric plant in Brunswick County. Having rescued turtles there in the past (Brunswick and Kane) he knew just how important I was, and how to get me the help I needed. He even recorded the exact place where I was found: N 33°57.25' latitude, W 78°00.30' longitude. Whatever; I was still way off course.

 
KS: And…

S: I’ll tell you, I was floating around freezing my carapace off in 53° water. Now I’m just a little 4-½ pound cold-blooded reptile without the means to heat myself up. That cold water, along with the cold air (below 50°) made me one hypothermic turtle. My hospital chart says I was “cold-stunned.”

 
KS: Continue.

S: Mr. Chuck wrapped me up and drove me to Wilmington, where he handed me to a lady with white hair and a sweet smile. I could tell right away she really liked me. I found out later my chauffeur was THE DIRECTOR of the hospital, Jean Beasley.

 
 KS: How has hospital life been for you?

S: Well, I now know that being a Kemp’s Ridley really is special. I’m the rarest of the sea turtles. I found out there’s another Kemp’s about my age at the hospital, and I hope to meet him soon. I’m really impressed with how big the loggerhead turtles are! I was a little intimidated at first, but got over that pretty quickly, mostly because the volunteers fuss over me so much.

 
KS: Well, you are quite a cutie-pie.

S: Thank you. But back to my story. I was really paying attention during my physical exam, so I knew that “cold-stunned” turtles have a tendency to get pneumonia. I had been wheezing a little, so it was a good thing that I was started on medicine immediately. Yikes – those needles are really sharp. But I just got my last shot, and I feel a lot better.

 

KS: Most patients rave about our hospital food.

S: It’s the best! I was a little confused at first, having stuff put right in my face. I was used to catching it. But I get shrimp, and tender little squid rings delivered right to my tank. Life doesn’t get much better. Well, maybe if I had some fresh blue crab, but they’re kind of hard to come by right now. My only complaint is biting into a vitamin or calcium tablet hidden (they think) in my shrimp. Kind of kills the flavor.

  <
KS: How do you spend your free time?

S: My tank’s right under a window, so I get to bask in the sun for part of the day. I nap, swim, nap, look cute. I was a little battered from my ordeal, so I’m being careful not to do anything that might damage my plastron any further. I’m teaching the other turtles Spanish in the evenings, just in case they meet another Kemp’s someday.

 
KS: Looks like you might be a short-timer here at the hospital.

S: I’m really hoping to take the plunge at the June release. I’d like to escort another Kemp’s Ridley, Dare, to her reef. I’ve heard her story – what a brave lady.

 
KS: Thank you, Southport.

S: Gracias.

 

THE TREATMENT Good food, vitamins and TLC

SEPT 20, 2006
Going up and over the beach access we drove slowly along the shore, looking for a place with the calmest surf. Both of these guys are little squirts and we didn’t want them battered and tumbling back to shore by a large wave.  Finding the perfect spot  we hopped out with our patients and held a small ceremony, invoking Mother Ocean to accept and protect these two critters. “Southport” maintained his vice grip on his towel and we literally had to pry it out of his mouth. I guess everybody needs a “blankie” at some point in their life, even a sea turtle. Our ex-intern, now Dr. Heather Chadwick, a vet, escorted him.
There was no question “Southport” knew what to do, almost flying over that first wave.