N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher summer campers paraded on to the beach at the Fort Fisher Recreation Area Thursday. Leading their way was a special friend, a healthy green sea turtle that had been found on the same beach in May, sick and unresponsive. On this day, however, Aquarist Tech Carol Richard carried a flapping, excited turtle past hundreds of spectators snapping photos and into the surf. Womble, the sea turtle, swam away as people cheered and clapped.
Womble’s comeback story began when Park Ranger Katherine Womble, the turtle’s namesake, found the sea turtle stranded on May 7, 2013. After an initial assessment by the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission Sea Turtle Program Assistant, the sea turtle was delivered to the Aquarium for temporary care pending room at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center.
The animal immediately began receiving medical treatment for dehydration, vitamin deficiencies and infection. Its condition was so grave the animal could not initially be kept in water due to concerns of drowning, as it could not lift its head. Medical therapies, tube feedings and continual care by Aquarium staff and the veterinarian team from North Carolina State University led to improvements. As the animal’s movements became stable, staff began applying medication to its shell which suffered from ulcers and erosion. Releasing the animal became a prospect as improvements continued. Veterinarians declared the animal healthy for release after completing a thorough examination and blood work this week.