By Karen Sota
Our work at the hospital has been pretty light almost since the beginning of September. We released every turtle that had been pronounced healthy, and almost no turtles have been admitted. If a patient did come in they were qiven a physical exam and, if there were no issues, they headed back home after enjoying a few complimentary meals during their short stay. We were deluded into believing that our summer full of boat strikes and hooked events was finally winding down, and that most of the turtles were starting to get out of Dodge and heading to their warmer, winter waters. In fact, we were spending our time preparing for the annual onslaught of cold-stuns we expect to admit at the first significant drop in the temperature.
Then came “Pammie.” This cute juvenile loggerhead was found floating in the water near the bridge in Swansboro by an alert angler who noticed several injuries. After being picked up by the Emerald Island Sea Turtle Patrol she was delivered to CMAST in Morehead City for her initial exam, chemistry panels, and blood gases. Her injuries are quite extensive but obviously old and in various stages of healing. She was severely anemic but somehow the little lady seemed to be doing an amazing job managing to survive despite having several large gashes, all pretty much at her hind end. Her right rear flipper was basically gone, along with a significant portion of carapace immediately above it. Our guess? Possibly an initial boat impact with its whirling propeller hits her, and while she was stunned a shark saw a chance for a quick bite. We’ll never know for sure – she’s not saying.
We admitted Pammie on September 29th then transported her to NC School of Veterinary Medicine the next day for a full-body CT scan. With the location and number of very deep large and small lacerations we wanted to make sure there was no damage to her spinal cord. Results showed her good to go, just not right away.
Back at the ranch (hospital) Pammie has new digs in Sick Bay, where she currently has the entire room to herself! She’s being treated daily with antibiotics, soapy baths, and betadine flushes to keep those healing wounds sparkling clean. She’s handled very gently because the edges of her carapace are quite soft. And thankfully she’s a really good eater; not picky about what we have to offer. Good food with enough protein is essential to healing and the difference is already apparent even though she’s only been with us a short time. You can check Pammie out in person if a visit to our hospital is in your near future.
Only one nest, laid very late in the season is still incubating. But it’s not only those hatchlings that we’re asking you to look out for but any turtle in any kind of distress. If you find a hatchling on the beach carefully pick it up and put it in a small container with some sand and a small amount of water - barely cover the flippers. Then call our Director of Beach Operations, Terry Meyer at: 910-470-2880. If she is not available, you may call the hospital during operating hours: 910-329-0222. We will take the information and one of our area coordinators will meet you to retrieve the hatchling and refer it to us for follow-up. The State of NC hotline for stranded, sick, and injured turtles is 252-241-7367. The state number picks up 24/7. Please note that all our work with sea turtles, at the hospital and on the beach, is authorized by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, ES Permit 21ST05.
Fall tours continue! Through October we are open four days a week, Wednesdays through Saturdays from Noon – 4 PM. The admission process remains the same; you must schedule and purchase your tickets in advance for a specific day and time through our website reservations page . And we require masks be worn inside the building for everyone five years of age and over – no exceptions. We are working on an abbreviated tour schedule for November so check our website in a few weeks for details.