The turtle, found stranded on Yawkey South Island Reserve near Georgetown, S.C. Saturday, March 7, is one of the few live leatherback strandings reported in the United States.
The juvenile sea turtle, estimated to weigh 500 pounds, was transported by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) to the Aquarium to receive treatment. Upon admission the turtle, named Yawkey because of where s/he was rescued, was determined to be hypoglycemic.
Yawkey displayed no signs of external trauma or any alarming bloodwork. Fluids were administered to the turtle to correct the hypoglycemia and antibiotics to combat possible internal infections.
The large turtle was later transferred to a holding pool and is under continuous observation. While the turtle may have an intestinal impaction or stranded due to being caught in a fishing net, supportive care is being provided and the root cause of the turtle's stranding may never be identified. Due to the fact that leatherback sea turtles do poorly in a captive environment, Sea Turtle Hospital team members plan to release the animal back to the wild as soon as possible.
During the spring and fall seasons, leatherback sea turtles migrate through our coastal waters. Currently they can be found nesting off the Florida coast, a key reason Sea Turtle Hospital team members are eager to return Yawkey to warmer waters.