SCUD. When that term comes up, the veterinarian and the turtle hospital manager quit talking and look at each other. They're not researchers; they're not comfortable speculating about what's wrong with the loggerheads.
"The good news is that, for the most part, they are responding to therapy. That's our job, put them back in the water," South Carolina Aquarium veterinarian Shane Boylan says of the loggerheads.
SCUD is septicemic cutaneous ulcerative disease, essentially skin rot. It can be deadly when it shows up in turtles. It's treated with antibiotics.
So far this year, 15 live stranding sea turtles have been admitted to the aquarium -- putting 2011 on a record pace for strandings. Eight of them had skin ulcers, lesions or had lost keratin, the soft tissue on flippers and necks. In 10 years of operation, the hospital never has admitted more than one or two turtles with skin problems, out of an average 20 admissions per year.