Several people bid farewell to six sea turtles successfully rehabilitated by the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program Thursday afternoon.
Five Kemp’s ridley and one green sea turtle were returned to the Atlantic Ocean at the Isle of Palms County Park on the Isle of Palms, South Carolina around 1:00 p.m..
The release was held in partnership with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) and the Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission (CCPRC).
This release marks 163 threatened and endangered sea turtles rehabilitated and released into the wild by the Sea Turtle Rescue Program.
About the sea turtles:
Bailey: Bailey, the largest green sea turtle ever brought to the Sea Turtle Rescue Program, was admitted after being found floating and in distress near Bailey Island, S.C. This juvenile sea turtle was emaciated and suffering from a boat strike that sheared off a portion of the upper jaw and damaged the left eye. In addition, Bailey is the first turtle to be found off the South Carolina coast with fibropappilomatosis, a disease characterized by tumors caused by a herpes virus, Bailey’s treatment included fluids, vitamin injections, pain medication, antibiotics, a freshwater bath to remove the leeches, and removal of the small fibropappiloma tumors. Team members worked for months to provide supportive care to Bailey. After close to a year of treatment and no sign of tumor regrowth, Bailey is ready to once again swim the deep blue sea.
Tater, Gibbons, Pilatus, Fitz and Cavin: These five endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles were all part of a massive stranding event along the New England coast in November 2014, when more than 1,000 sea turtles were found near death, suffering from hypothermia after a severe cold front hit Massachusetts’ coastal waters. The turtles were flown to Charleston via a private plane generously donated by Will and Margie Dorminy, local residents and owners of Southern Eagle Distributing. The turtles were treated with antibiotics, fluids and vitamin injections. After six months of care, all five are ready to be released in the warm waters off of Isle of Palms.
Sea turtles are cold-blooded reptiles that depend on the environment to regulate their body temperature. Typically, sea turtles migrate to warmer waters when the water starts cooling in the fall. If they don’t make the migration before coastal water temperatures drop, they suffer from hypothermia, also known as cold-stunning. Symptoms of cold-stunning include a decreased heart and respiration rate, decreased circulation, and lethargy, followed by shock, pneumonia and, in worst case scenarios, death.
What can you do?:
You can help protect threatened and endangered sea turtles. If you find a sick or injured sea turtle, contact the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) sea turtle hotline at (800) 922-5431. You also may help care for sea turtles in recovery in the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program by going to SCAquarium.org and making a donation.
To read about our patients or track their recovery progress, visit our Sea Turtle Rescue Program blog at SCAquarium.org. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates from the hospital, including public sea turtle release details.
About the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program:
In partnership with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program works to rescue, rehabilitate and release sea turtles that strand along the South Carolina coast. Located in the Aquarium, the Sea Turtle Hospital admits 20 to 30 sea turtles each year. Many of these animals are in critical condition and some are too sick to save.
According to SCDNR, during the past 10 years the average number of sea turtle standings on South Carolina beaches each year is 128. Of these, roughly 10 percent are alive and successfully transported to the Sea Turtle Hospital. To date, the South Carolina Aquarium has successfully rehabilitated and released 163 sea turtles and is currently treating 11 patients. The average cost for each patient’s treatment is $35 per day with the average length of stay reaching nine months.
About the South Carolina Aquarium:
The South Carolina Aquarium, Charleston’s most visited attraction, features thousands of amazing aquatic animals from river otters and sharks to loggerhead turtles in more than 60 exhibits representing the rich biodiversity of South Carolina from the mountains to the sea. Dedicated to promoting education and conservation, the Aquarium also presents fabulous views of Charleston harbor and interactive exhibits and programs for visitors of all ages.
The South Carolina Aquarium, a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit organization and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Aquarium is closed Thanksgiving Day, half day Dec. 24 (open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) and Dec. 25. Admission prices are: Toddlers (2 and under) free; Youth (3-12) $17.95; Adults (13+) $24.95. The Aquarium plus the 4-D Theater experience is free for Toddlers, $22.95 for Children, $29.95 for Adults. The 4-D Theater experience only is $6.95 for Children and Adults, and free for Members. For more information call 843-720-1990 or visit SCAquarium.org. Memberships are available by calling 843-577-FISH.