Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Turtle Hospital admits 4 cold-stunned sea turtles from NC

The recent onslaught of cold weather in NC was not only a shock to the people living there but also to the sea turtles just off the coast. Sea turtles are unable to regulate their body temperature so dramatic decreases in water temperature cause the turtles to become immobile and make it impossible for them to migrate to warmer water. Since late last week, over 60 sea turtles have become cold-stunned and stranded on NC beaches. It is a race against time for these animals that will die without help and whose populations are already in trouble. As NC facilities are overwhelmed with the numbers, North Carolina Department of Natural Resources put a call in for help to neighboring states that could possibly take some of the load.

After confirming that the Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Rescue Program would be able to help, DuBose Griffin, Sea Turtle Coordinator of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, traveled over 8 hours to transport 2 green sea turtles and 2 loggerhead sea turtles to the Turtle Hospital. Although the hospital was essentially full when the initial call for help came in Monday morning, staff knew that some changes could be made, some turtles could be moved and temporary tanks cleaned, to make room for 4 new patients. The hospital is now bustling with 12 patients, the most the South Carolina Aquarium has ever held at once!

The cold-stunned sea turtles were

admitted on Monday evening and aside from warming their core temperatures slowly to match the temperature of the holding pools, Dr. Boylan gave them full physicals, vitamin injections and antibiotics to prevent pneumonia. The animals are all lethargic and are being monitored very closely.

You can see the new patients by going to the hospital page but even better, you can visit all 12 patients by taking a hospital tour! Tour information is on the website. We’d love to see you!

Kelly Thorvalson

Monday, November 17, 2008

Mama Pritchard egg update

The Pritchards Island turtle team observed several false crawls and deteriorating wounds in an adult female loggerhead in late spring of 2008. These wounds would have likely led to the animal’s death if the SCDNR and the Pritchards Island turtle team had not made great efforts in saving this animal. During several months of rehabilitation, Mama Pritchard, named for the location she was found, laid a total of 146 eggs at the South Carolina Aquarium’s turtle hospital. The number of eggs suggests she was carrying a full clutch when she arrived for treatment. Although the first eggs deposited were obviously nonviable and the chances were very slim that any of the eggs would develop, the majority were incubated for 70+ days.

Recently, the eggs were evaluated at the Aquarium by SCDNR sea turtle biologists and it was obvious that none of the eggs were viable. This was likely due to the location, severity and timing of the significant trauma Mama Pritchard endured during her nesting season. The SC Aquarium would like to express its gratitude to the Aquarium volunteers, interns and staff who patiently assisted with egg monitoring, the Pritchards Island turtle team for diligently monitoring the beaches, and the SCDNR sea turtle program for allowing the egg incubation. Although the eggs did not survive the trauma, Mama Pritchard is doing very well in rehabilitation. She will survive to produce more offspring thanks to the efforts of all those involved in South Carolina’s sea turtle program.

Dr. Shane Boylan