There’s no hiding the fact that there’s a new guy in town, and his name is (ironically) “Hyde.” And for once we naively thought that there would be no agonizing over a name: He was rescued in Hyde County. But (there’s always a but) after reviewing the index of the almost 400 patients who have come through our doors we had to amend his official moniker to “Hyde II.”
Hyde stranded on the beach about one-half mile south of the Ocracoke ramp, and travelled by ferry to Cedar Island. (Another first for one of our patients, medi-vacced courtesy of our NC Ferry System.) From there he was taken to CMAST in Morehead City for his initial evaluation and treatment protocol. Although he was very lethargic, with a heart rate of 4 bpm, there were no obvious injuries. For you mathletes (older folks get out your slide-rules!) his temperature was 9.2˚C and he weighed 95.4 kg. Translation: he was cold and big.
Hyde took up residence in Sea Turtle Bay where he will remain under quarantine for the regulation sixty days, getting daily baths and restorative treatments for his carapace. Because he was regurgitating fluid he will continue his course of antibiotics to hopefully prevent pneumonia.
So what happened to Mr. Hyde, and why does he have those strange looking striations on each side of his carapace? Technically he’s a cold-stun, but he obviously hadn’t been in that condition for a long time or he would have already moved into our “Barnacle Bill” category. He has pretty good muscle mass and the three pounds of fish and squid we feed him every day should allow him to quickly regain what weight he may have lost. We’re speculating that the nor’easter we had a month or so back may have been strong enough to push him out of the warm waters of the Gulf Stream and into much colder conditions where he began to chill out, and not in a good way.
More mysterious is how he got the symmetrical striation marks that follow the curve of his carapace. They’re not deep, but they are obviously there. The boys have been known to fight during mating season, and those ginormous claws on an adult’s flippers can do a lot of damage. It could have happened that way, but when we ask Hyde about it he gets this inscrutable expression on his face and declines comment. We’ll never really know, but it’s fun to run through the gamut of possible reasons. Maybe there’s a Dr. Jekyll side we have yet to discover.
Come celebrate “Big April’s” big day
Mark your calendars for April 19 when we celebrate “Big April’s Re-Birthday.” April was found on Wrightsville Beach one year ago, near death. In fact people walked by her remarking “poor turtle” because they were pretty sure she was already gone. Luckily she was able to use what little strength she had left to open one eye and ask a passerby for help. You should see her now, really. And you can when we open our doors from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 19. Join us in singing Happy Birthday, sign her card and then enjoy some of her cake. She promises that it’s “human-friendly and squid-free.” She’s hoping she can top the almost 600 visitors who came to “Padi’s Day” in March.
Directions to our hospital in Surf City: Take the turn from N.C. 50/210 onto Charlie Medlin Drive (Shipwreck Point Golf Course is your landmark for this road.) Follow the road onto the gravel section and through the roundabout to Tortuga Lane. Stay on Tortuga until it ends and make the left into our parking lot. Come in through the double glass doors. Admission is $5 adults, $4 seniors and active military with ID, $3 children.
Still a chance of stunning weather
Although we’re nearing the end of our “cold-stun season,” Hyde’s story illustrates that even larger turtles with more body mass are not immune to the effects of our very long and bitterly cold winter. Although able to survive a cold snap, their recovery process is so draining that they often devolve physically into the type of patient we refer to as our “Barnacle Bills.” In the event that you do come across a turtle in distress here are the basic steps for a cold-stun rescue: If the turtle is small and easily handled remove it from the beach or water and place it in an unheated area such as your garage, car or utility room. Do not try to warm it up! That could cause the turtle to go into shock. The N.C. hotline for any stranding is 252-241-7367 and the call will be picked up 24/7. Locally, if you come across any turtle in distress you can text or phone our director, Jean Beasley, at 910-470-2800 or our beach director, Terry Meyer, at 910-470-2880. Please report any and all local sea turtle activity (strandings, injured or sick turtles) immediately to Jean or Terry.
Questions, comments, suggestions??
Please direct any questions, comments or suggestions re: this column to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. This column is in the off-season schedule of publication of every other week. To be added to the newsletter list e-mail me at the same address: email@example.com. Things are constantly changing, and the copy under construction is being updated so the news is fresh. At some point we’ll just bite the squid and get something out to our ever-growing (nearing 1,000) list. If your e-mail address has recently changed please send me your new one so I can update my master list.
Karen Sota is the volunteer media coordinator for the Sea Turtle Hospital in Topsail Beach.