On September 3, 2001, a juvenile Kemp’s Ridley was found at the Crystal River Power Plant in Citrus County. This little guy, who weighed only 7 lbs, had a wound to both his upper and lower jaw on his right side. Although this was an old wound that was healed over, the rhombus on his top jaw was sliced all the way down to his bone. Otherwise, the turtle was in good body condition overall. The turtle, named “Rob”, was admitted to Clearwater Marine Aquarium on the same day as his stranding. He was weighed, measured, and had a full blood sample before being put in a shallow pool to see how well he could handle himself in the water. In addition to getting him acclimated, the shallow water made it much easier for Staff to “capture” him when he needed to be tube fed. Although he was doing well with his tube feeding, he would not accept any of the solid food that was being offered to him, so his tube feedings continued through October. By the end of October, Staff began to combine tube feedings with force feeding sessions (where he was fed capelin) and things began to turn around when Rob began foraging on his own in mid-November.
Luckily for Rob, he only faced a couple small difficulties over the course of the next few years. He continued to eat on his own, so his diet (and his weight!) both began to increase. When he wasn’t resting on the bottom, he was very alert, and he continued to be pulled only once a year for his annual physical. Rob was moved to his new home, “Turtle Cove” on August 21, 2006, where he continues to reside today. The only medical issues Rob has faced were the result of his jaw injuries. The uneven growth of his mandible caused a few abscesses, and he also had a growth under his lower jaw which was pulled and sutured in the summer of 2008. Rob had two minor surgeries, one on July 16, 2008 and one on July 17, 2008, to remove a large amount of granuloma tissue as well as small amounts of necrotic bone. He was then put on antibiotics, and his eating pattern slowly returned to normal. The only other “problem” Rob has faced was with another resident Kemp’s Ridley, Molly. Rob had to be moved out of the pool they shared and into his own pool because Molly was very aggressive towards him!
Today, Rob weighs over 60 lbs, and he has come a long way from the 7 lb little guy that stranded in 2001. Rob is a very easygoing turtle who loves his squid, and spends most of his time napping. Rob still resides at Turtle Cove (you can find him in the middle pool) and we are proud to call him a resident here at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.