Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sea Turtle Hospital's newest patient is not a turtle at all!

An immature Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) was found by several of the South Carolina Aquarium's animal care staff on their way back from lunch at Santi's, a local Mexican restaurant. The pelican didn't fly away when approached which alerted staff that the bird was probably ill. The staff, versed in handling injured wild birds, transported the pelican to the Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital to be examined by Dr. Boylan, the Aquarium's staff veterinarian.

Upon arrival at the hospital, the pelican, affectionately named Santi, received fluids, antibiotics and was tempted with fish. Santi appeared quite hungry but after taking the fish into its pouch, it was clear that there was a problem. It seems that a blockage in the guttural pouch won't allow food to pass. An open wound in the neck (visible in the photograph) is suspected to be the root cause of the problem.

Birds need to eat frequently and Santi looked thin, so it was vitally important to get some nutrition in the animal. After retrieving the uneaten fish from the back of the mouth, Santi was tube fed a healthy gruel. On subsequent days, hospital staff has found that fish cut up into very small pieces will pass down the esophagus. Although it takes about 30 minutes for just a handful of fish to be swallowed, this is much less stressful on the bird than tube feeding several times a day. The video shows Santi being fed and trying to get the fish down by consistently opening his/her beak and moving the head up and down.

As soon as Dr. Boylan feels the animal is stable, radiographs and an endoscopic examination will be performed and surgery will take place if necessary.

You can visit Santi and all of the other sea turtle patients by visiting the hospital. Behind-the-scenes tours give you a rare chance to get close to these amazing animals. Tour information is just below or call 843-577-FISH for more information.

Hope to see you soon!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Visit the Sea Turtle Hospital for a close encounter!

Sea Turtle Hospital behind-the-scenes tours have expanded to better accommodate your busy holiday schedule! Get a special, close encounter with 8 threatened and endangered sea turtles of 3 different species - one of which is over 330 pounds! The Sea Turtle Hospital has been called a "hidden gem" in Charleston by local patrons.

Tour days and times are Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 11am AND 1pm. There is a small fee for the tour in addition to Aquarium admission - I assure you that it is well worth it!

You can also give a tour of the South Carolina Aquarium and the Sea Turtle Hospital tour as a gift. Go to to learn about this gift and many more!

Happy Holidays!
Kelly Thorvalson

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sea turtles travel in style

Three sea turtles were recently transported from the University of New England Marine Animal Rehabilitation Center (MARC) to the South Carolina Aquarium; but it was no ordinary transport. Ronnie Santos, a local pilot and member of the East Cooper Pilot's Association, offered the sea turtles a ride in his private plane, a Piper Twin Comanche.

On Wednesday, November 5, 2009, Ronnie flew the 95-pound loggerhead and 2 small Kemp's ridley sea turtles from Biddeford, Maine to the Mount Pleasant Regional Airport in Charleston, SC. Although the transport containers barely fit into the aircraft, this unusual "Angel Flight" was successful in cutting many hours off of what would have been a 18-20 hour drive. The purpose of the transfer was to make room for more patients at MARC during the upcoming cold-stunning season. The cost of the transport was absorbed by Mr. Santos and other members of the East Cooper Pilot's Association.

History: The turtles being transferred were part of a cold stunning event on the coast of New England in November of 2008. Sea turtles are cold blooded and are unable to regulate their body temperatures. When coastal water temperatures drop quickly, sea turtles in the area become stunned and are unable to migrate to warmer waters.

The loggerhead, affectionately called "Santos," will finish rehabilitation at the Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital and the 2 Kemp's ridleys were transferred to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island.

This was an amazing event and really showcases the joint efforts of organizations working together to support sea turtle conservation. I would like to send a sincere thank you to Mr. Ron Santos and the East Cooper Pilot's Association, the University of New England Marine Animal Rehabilitation Center and the SC Department of Natural Resources for their leadership in sea turtle conservation in SC.

Kelly Thorvalson

Friday, October 16, 2009

Little Pawley - the final hours

I posted about Pawley's death on the medical case log but did not post a new blog - I apologize for that. Many of you are still asking. Below are the words of our Veterinarian, Dr. Shane Boylan, when we lost Little Pawley. Details of the days leading up to the death are posted on the medical case log. This log has been moved to the released section because I was unsure where else to put it. This little turtle had a tremendous impact in the few weeks during his rescue and rehabilitation. We are all saddened by his death.

Kelly Thorvalson
10/16/09 Pawley suddenly, but not unexpectedly, “died” in his tank this morning. After a long 10-15 minutes of CPR, we were able to resuscitate him to biting and minor flipper movement. It wasn’t a full recovery, but it was significant. I decided to conduct a coelomotomy surgery to attempt to remove the impaction. Intestinal inflammation was severe but we were unable to locate and remove the impaction. After surgery and some recovery time at the Aquarium, I brought the turtle home with me until his heart finally passed at 6:30 PM.

10/17/09 Necropsy answered our questions. Among other finds, the inflammation in the gut was the most severe I have seen in a living reptile. The complete intestinal obstruction was inaccessible by surgery and showed evidence of being weeks old. The short story is that 50% of the small intestine was damaged beyond repair. The little guy never had a chance.

Big thank you to everyone involved (SCUTE), especially the surgery crew who hung with me for 3 hours on Tuesday afternoon and DNR for putting up with my long necropsy last Wednesday.

Dr. Shane Boylan

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Little Pawley underwater video!

Many of you are awaiting news on Pawley's progress so I thought video may be the best way to show you just how well he/she is doing!

This is actually an underwater video taken today just after feeding (note the small fish particulate in the water) and Pawley is still looking around the tank for food. The turtle was extremely bouyant when he/she first arrived and over several days we were able to extract air from the body cavity, helping the turtle float a little less. At this point in time, the nature of the floating indicates that the rest of the air is intestinal. With a healthy diet and a little metamucil, we hope that these bouyancy issues will soon be resolved.

Overall, Pawley is doing very well. Thanks to all of you for checking back with us on the blog. Even better would be to visit in person...take a drive to the South Carolina Aquarium to visit Pawley and all of his turtle friends in the Sea Turtle Hospital! Tour information can be found on the main hospital webpage.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Endangered sea turtle rescued by 9-year old in Pawley's Island

A call came in to the head of the SCUTE turtle team, Jeff McClary, on Sunday morning. A very small, live sea turtle was found washed up on Pawley’s Island but someone put it back into the water thinking that was the right thing to do. Knowing that if the turtle stranded on the beach it was sick or injured and once back in the water it may never be seen again, Jeff put out an all points bulletin to the SCUTE coordinators. The Schneider’s {Pawley’s and S. Litchfield} and Betsy Brabson {DeBordieu} sent out an email to the other Turtle Enthusiasts. In the late afternoon, the Graysons spotted something bobbing in the surf and Wilson Grayson, 9 years old, waded into the water to check it out. What he found was a very sick juvenile green sea turtle in need of medical attention. Jeff was notified, collected the turtle and headed South as Kelly Sloan of the SC Department of Natural Resources headed North to make the transfer in McClellanville. It was only a matter of time that the little green named Pawley after it’s stranding location, was admitted into the South Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital.

Here is Dr. Boylan’s description of the turtle on the night of its arrival:
The animal is mildly anemic, moderately hypoglycemic, severely hypoproteinemic, and severely bradycardic (very low heart rate). We tapped about 180 cc of gas from the coelom (body cavity). Radiographs were clear of any fishing hooks or detectable foreign bodies. The animal reacted with pain responses to injections which correlates with a presumptive diagnosis of gas productive coelomic sepsis. An old puncture wound was found at the marginal scutes. The nearby inframarginal scutes showed some signs of internal pathology by palpation and examination. This is the likely source of the infection (puncture wound). Antibiotics, vitamins, x-rays, fluids with dextrose, ultrasounds, and in house bloodwork were conducted tonight. The prognosis is guarded given sepsis is very likely and acute in onset. The body condition and hydration status were relatively normal.

With each passing day, the chances of survival for little Pawley are better. It is now 4 days into treatment and Pawley is active and even ate a little fish on Wednesday and Thursday. In addition to continuing supportive care including fluids, vitamins and antibiotics, hospital staff is regularly bleeding coelomic air that is being produced by the internal bacterial infection. Be sure to check back to the hospital page to get regular updates on Pawley as well as the other patients in our care!

Thank you to everyone involved with this animal’s rescue, especially to Wilson Grayson and his family. Green sea turtles are listed as federally endangered under the Endangered Species Act and need our help. And remember, if you find a sick or injured sea turtle, contact the local police department or call the SC Department of Natural Resources hotline at 1-800-922-5431.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New patient admitted into Sea Turtle Hospital

A call came in on Monday, August 24th from Arturo with the SC Department of Natural Resources - he was on his way to pick up a stranded turtle from North Myrtle Beach, SC. The estimated time of arrival was 7pm. It would be another late night at the Aquarium...

The turtle that stranded was an 80-pound loggerhead (still a juvenile) whose shell was covered in barnacles and hundreds of tube worms whose homes made of mud, were caked inches thick on the shell. Unlike most debilitated sea turtles that arrive at our facility, this one was actually moving around quite a bit. In addition to checking overall body condition and respirations, blood was taken for an in-house snapshot of the animal's health and to ship off for complete blood counts and chemistries. That in house blood analysis told us that "Scute", the new loggerhead, is very anemic and has a very low blood protein. The good news is that it actually has a decent blood glucose level which is why the turtle was more active than most in this state.

You can see the degree of emaciation by the outline of bones and tendons in the neck area. The "sore" on top of the skull is from a rope that was entangled around the turtle's neck when it was found in the surf. This entanglement may be the root cause of the turtles poor condition. Supportive care was given to include fluid therapy with Vitamin B, an iron injection to combat anemia, IV hetastarch fluids to help the protein levels in the blood, and of course, antibiotic injections. Since it was 10:30pm when we finished treatment and we could not monitor the turtle overnight, Dr. Boylan and I decided to leave her in a very shallow pool of freshwater. This would allow her to breathe without having to swim to the surface.

Although Scute is extremely sick, we are hopeful that she will improve with continued supportive care. Keep up with Scute's progress (as well as the other patients in the Sea Turtle Hospital) on the main hospital webpage.

Thank you to all involved in the rescue of Scute and for Arturo from SCDNR for the long hours on the road to get her safely to our hospital. It takes all of us to save the lives of these animals!

P.S. For those of you who aren't aware of our naming system, we name the patients after where they strand whether it is a beach or waterway. Currently we are treating a Myrtle and a North Myrtle. To avoid giving the same names to turtles, we look for other names that have something to do with the area in which the turtle strands. SCUTE stands for South Carolina United Turtle Enthusiasts and is comprised of sea turtle volunteers from Georgetown to North Myrtle Beach. This stranding got the name Scute so we wouldn't have to name it North Myrtle Jr as well as to honor all of the SCUTE volunteers that support sea turtle conservation and the Sea Turtle Rescue Program.


Monday, August 10, 2009

"Carolina's Story" inspires 4-year old Ava to help sea turtles

I recently received a wonderful letter in the mail and was so moved by it, I had to post for everyone. Click on the letter below to meet 4-year old Ava from California:

Carolina's Story, the children's book written about in the letter, is a wonderful story about a sick loggerhead sea turtle named Carolina that received medical care and TLC right here in the South Carolina Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital. This book has made it to thousands of classrooms and homes and inspired many, including Ava all the way from California! On behalf of the South Carolina Aquarium and the Sea Turtle Rescue Program, I would like to thank Ava for the great job on the educational posters and the successful garage sale. I feel sure that you will get to help a leatherback hatchling to the ocean one day!

And to all the other children that donate the the Sea Turtle Rescue Program through birthdays, bake sales, lemonade stands or by doing extra chores, I will try to get your stories up as they come in. You all are TRULY INSPIRING!

To find out more about Carolina's Story go to


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

3 rescued sea turtles return to the ocean!

We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day to release 3 rehabilitated sea turtles! A crowd of 800 to 1000 people gathered on Kiawah Island Sunday to witness these majestic animals crawl into the warm, salty waters that is their home.

One of the most exciting stories of the day was that 7-year old Ethan Harrison and his mother Shelley, of Caledonia, Ontario in Canada, traveled down to be a part of it. After raising almost $2500 over 3 years for the sick and injured sea turtles in the Sea Turtle Rescue Program, Ethan gave his favorite healed patient, Wadmalaw, one final helping hand - he carried him home. It was somewhat emotional for all of us but particularly for the Harrisons.

Thank you to all involved in the rescue, rehabilitation and release of these sea turtles, including Ethan. There are too many others to name here but we could not do what we do without ALL OF YOU!

I would like to send a special thank you to Kiawah's ResortQuest for the wonderful villa that was given to the Harrisons during their trip to Charleston and to the employees of ResortQuest for raising money for Ethan and donating to the Sea Turtle Rescue Program in Ethan's name. This was a REALLY nice touch to a special weekend.

Kelly Thorvalson

Friday, July 17, 2009

One Boy, One Turtle, a World of Difference

One extremely passionate seven-year-old boy, one very sick sea turtle, four garage sales, three craft shows, 500 homemade turtle chocolates and numerous 10-cent bottle refunds add up to a winning combination for patients in the South Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Rescue Program. Ethan, inspired by a behind-the-scenes tour of the South Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital, has worked diligently for over two years raising funds to support the hospital patients. To his honor, on July 26, 2009, Ethan will join Aquarium staff in releasing Wadmalaw, the Kemp’s ridley whose story first inspired him to educate others about the plight of sea turtles and work towards raising money for their treatment. Two other rehabilitated sea turtles, Kiawah and Winyah, will also be released on Sunday, July 26 at 3 p.m. at Beachwalker County Park located on the west end of Kiawah Island, S.C. (Parking is limited and Beachwalker County Park parking fees will apply).

Meet Ethan

Ethan, a resident of Caledonia, Ontario in Canada first came to the Aquarium when he was five years old to deliver $214 he had raised for patients in the Sea Turtle Hospital. On his initial visit, Ethan met Wadmalaw, a critically ill patient. Inspired by his encounter, at home, he continued to educate others and raise money to aid in the medical care of these threatened and endangered species. His passion to-date has added up to enough money to feed eight sea turtle patients for an entire year or to cover a year’s worth of medication and procedures for a patient in the Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital.

On July 26, Ethan plans to present a $1,000 donation to the Aquarium during the beach release on Kiawah Island. With the July 26 planned gift, Ethan’s donations total $2,274. He continues to raise money for the hospital through his own fundraising ideas and has most recently “asked for turtle donations in lieu of gifts from his friends for his birthday” said his mother Shelley Harrison. In school in his hometown of Caledonia, Ontario in Canada, Ethan uses show-and-tell to educate his peers about sea turtles asking them to stop using plastic bags “because sea turtles eat them thinking they are jellyfish” he said. He purchased a reusable bag for each child in his class and asked them to use the reusable bag instead.

In June, Ethan won his school’s 'Principal's Award for Student Leadership' due to his conservation efforts for sea turtles and the environment. He was also nominated for both a ‘Junior Citizen’ award and for an 'Amazing Kid' contest on a local radio station.

About Wadmalaw (Kemp’s ridley sea turtle)

Wadmalaw was admitted into the South Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital on July 11, 2007 after being caught by a fisherman on hook and line on Wadmalaw Island, S.C. The hook was lodged deep in the turtle’s mouth and the fisherman was unable to remove it. On the day of Wadmalaw’s arrival, under full anesthesia, surgery was performed and the hook was successfully removed. There were also additional complications with this patient. Wadmalaw was floating, not interested in food and was very lethargic. Through subsequent radiographs, hospital staff learned that the Wadmalaw had a bone degenerating infection that had invaded several joints causing swelling and loss of flipper movement. Through subsequent radiographs, hospital staff learned that the Wadmalaw had a bone degenerating infection that had invaded several joints causing swelling and loss of flipper movement. With an unknown future and poor prognosis, staff held out hope and proceeded with treatment for the small turtle which included antibiotic and antifungal injections, vitamin injections and tube feeding. Physical therapy was initiated to keep its flippers from becoming atrophied. In late September, Wadmalaw started to show interest in food and in January 2008 began getting movement back in some of the flippers. By May 2008 after undergoing five sets of radiographs, a CT scan and multiple medications, Wadmalaw started showing signs of great improvement. Sea Turtle Rescue Program Coordinator, Kelly Thorvalson wrote on her blog, “time is this animal's friend,” and so it was, as now it is healed and ready for release.

About Winyah (Kemp’s ridley sea turtle)

On September 22, 2008 Winyah was found comatose after getting entangled and trapped underwater in a channel net used to catch shrimp in the Winyah Bay in Georgetown, S.C. Upon arrival at the Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital, staff kept the animal at an angle to drain the fluid from the lungs. An antibiotic regimen was initiated to prevent pneumonia, which would have been likely without treatment. Due to the large amount of fluids, it was evident that while caught in the net the turtle was unable to come to the surface to breathe. Healthy, Winyah is now ready for release.

About Kiawah (loggerhead sea turtle)

Found washed up on Kiawah Island, the juvenile debilitated loggerhead was admitted into the Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital on March 28, 2009. The turtle was hypoglycemic, moderately emaciated, dehydrated and covered in small barnacles, algae and skeleton shrimp indicating it had been lethargic for a long time. Fluid therapy, antibiotics, and dextrose were immediately administered. Supportive therapy continued and Kiawah began showing signs of improvement. By May 2009 the turtle was eating well and very active. Having added necessary weight and the bloodwork analyzed, Kiawah is ready for release.

The public is invited to come and join the Aquarium Sunday afternoon July 26 at 3 p.m. at Beachwalker County Park located on the west end of Kiawah Island, S.C. for the sea turtles Wadmalaw, Winyah and Kiawah’s beach release. Additionally, Wednesday, July 22 through Saturday, July 25 the Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital will be offering additional behind-the-scenes tours at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.

For advance bookings for the Sea Turtle Hospital tour, please call the Aquarium at (843) 577-FISH (3474).

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

New patients admitted and Little Debbie update

On Thursday, June 11th, a 12-pound green sea turtle was admitted into the Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital. Green sea turtles are listed as endangered on the Endangered Species Act and are more rarely seen in SC than the loggerhead or even the Kemp’s ridley which is considered to be one of the most rare sea turtles in the world. The animal was found floating just off of Mingo Point on Kiawah Island and rescued by Kiawah Nature Center staff. The lethargic turtle was moderately emaciated and very dehydrated. Radiographs taken the next day found intestinal air to be the cause of the floating. Extremely dilated intestinal loops give the impression that impaction is the likely culprit. In addition to a full blood analysis, “Mingo” was immediately put on antibiotics as well as given fluids to correct the dehydration. Hospital staff will initially try non-surgical methods to help the animal pass the foreign body(ies) which are likely plastic and basic supportive care will continue.

SCDNR brought in a small Kemp's ridley sea turtle approximately 1am Sunday morning that had ingested a fish hook. Radiographs confirmed not one hook but two hooks in the esophagus! One hook was likely a previous incident which went unreported. Endoscopic surgery was performed to remove the hook. Sadly, the second hook (and likely older incident) was nowhere to be visualized in the esophagus. This hook injury likely occurred in the past where the hook had time to penetrate and become encapsulated in the esophagus and surrounding subcutaneous tissue. Invasive surgery will be required if we decide the hook presents a risk. The turtle will be evaluated in rehabilitation and the hook may not need to be removed. If anyone knows of a turtle being caught or catches a sea turtles on hook and line, get help if you are unable to remove the hook successfully and don’t cut the leader short!

"Little Debbie"

Little Debbie, the Kemp's ridley with a broken humerus and severe pneumonia, has made some improvement but the prognosis is still guarded. She is active at times and although this is good news, we need her to stay quiet to keep the broken flipper in place. Also, on Tuesday she took some food from our Turtle Whisperer Volunteer, Patricia, and the blood glucose has greatly improved. We would like to see lung radiographs clear up but in the meantime, we will continue to treat with anitbiotic injections, antifungal injections, antibiotic nebulizers and basic supportive care. We really hope see this animal get better. She is a fighter!

Thank you to all involved in the rescue and rehabilitation of these animals. It takes us all to help these amazing creatures to survive! You can continue to follow medical updates on these and all the patients in our hospital on the main Sea Turtle Hospital page.

Kelly and Shane

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Myrtle gets an MRI at Medical University of South Carolina

Myrtle is a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle that suffered a severe trauma to the head that destroyed a significant portion of the skull’s left side. Surgery reduced the fractures, and the turtle has made a remarkably fast recovery. All dead bone has been sloughed and the left eye’s function has tremendously improved. Unfortunately, Myrtle has become a “floater.” Turtles may become floaters for numerous reasons that include gas trapped within the body cavity (coelom) or intestines. Multiple attempts to remove trapped coelomic gas by needle aspiration were unproductive. Radiographs (the picture taken by X-rays) suggested that the buoyancy was either due to hyper inflated lungs or compartmentalized, trapped coelomic gas. Radiographs are best used to evaluate bone issues, and Myrtle appeared to have a problem with his/her organs.
An endoscopic surgery was the next logical step to narrow down the cause until Dr. Ed Jauch and the MUSC MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) team offered their assistance. MRI is a non-invasive (no surgical cutting) technique that allows the visualization of Myrtle’s internal soft tissues. On March 13th, Myrtle visited Drs. Ed Jauch, Paul Morgan, and the MUSC MRI staff. Myrtle quietly sat through nearly 40 minutes of scanning.

Results show that the lungs are the source of the buoyancy and that no surgical exploration for trapped coelomic gas is necessary. The MUSC doctors saved Myrtle from an unproductive surgery. Myrtle, or as I call him Tony Montana due to the scar on his face, is likely buoyant due to some neurological trauma suffered from the head injury that has resulted in hyperinflation of the lungs. Only time and weight belt therapy will tell if Myrtle will relearn to dive. He does dive normally on occasion when motivated by food, but overall, he enjoys staying at the surface. His condition could be compared to a human who suffered a brain injury (i.e., stroke) where the patient may have to relearn certain tasks.
Myrtle is not alone among sea turtles to suffer traumatic injury that results in permanent floatation and much remains unknown about how a boat strike could cause aberrant physiological behavior. The South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program is very grateful to MUSC for helping us find the root of the issue and thereby avoiding unnecessary surgery.

Shane Boylan

Monday, May 18, 2009

Many turn out for DeBordieu's release

It had to be one of our biggest releases yet – the release DeBordieu, a celebrity sea turtle in many ways.

DeBordieu, an adult female loggerhead possibly as old as 50-60 years, was released on the Isle of Palms on Saturday, May 2, 2009 in partnership with the SCDNR. Many turtle hospital tour visitors had met her during the 22 months of her rehabilitation in the Aquarium’s Turtle Hospital. She was quite a sight to behold during this time and even more so on the beach.
I have to say that DeBordieu was without doubt, the most difficult turtle I’ve ever treated. They all have different dispositions and as you may have read in her medical updates, she was stubborn during medical evaluations and therapy and at feeding time was not only picky but extremely messy, pulverizing most of the food she was given. Anytime we would work near her tank, she seemed to splash copious amounts of water out of the tank right where we were working. Coincidence? Perhaps. But that tough girl attitude may be just what it takes to survive in an ocean full of threats to her species. This old gal has survived this long and I believe she has a good long life in front of her in which to help to increase the threatened loggerhead population. We wish her the best.

Thanks to all who were involved in her rescue, her rehabilitation and to all who came to see her off on Saturday. Choreographing this particular release proved to be more challenging than expected. A lot of people have been involved during DeBordieu’s tenure with us and we tried to accommodate all during the release. We hope all who showed up at least got one good look at this majestic sea turtle before her return to the ocean. Be assured that we evaluate each and every release and constantly strive to improve the experience for all involved.

As always, thank you for your support of this program…we couldn’t do it without you!

Kelly Thorvalson

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Children of Belton, SC do it again!

I was invited to Belton, South Carolina for an Earth Day celebration on April 22, 2009. Belton is a beautiful little town in the upstate about 3 1/2 hours from Charleston. I had actually travelled to Belton 2 years earlier for a similar trip - the 2 elementary schools in town were studying loggerhead sea turtles and had held fundraisers for the Sea Turtle Rescue Program. These 2 schools were actually the first to ever hold fundraisers for the program and raised over $3,000 that year. Apparently, it was a big hit with the kids and since they kept talking to their teachers about it, they decided to do it again...but this time with an entire Earth Day celebration around it!

Through the 2009 read-a-thon called "Love the Loggerheads," 3rd through 5th grade students at Belton Elementary raised $3,373.00! Marshall Primary, the K-2nd grade school, also raised funds, bringing the total to almost $3,600 for the Sea Turtle Rescue Program! This wonderful donation will help fund medications, food and medical care for the sick and injured sea turtles that are admitted into the Turtle Hospital this season. The big check presented by the top readers at Belton brought tears to my eyes and the younger ones were so sweet when they gave me a huge jug full of rolled coins and bills that they had been collecting all year.

I would like to send a HUGE thanks to all of the kids from Marshall Primary and Belton Elementary for your dedication to learning about the state reptile, the loggerhead sea turtle, and for your hard work in raising much needed funds for the turtle hospital. And although I'm sure many were involved from each school in making this happen, I would especially like to thank Patsy Martin from Marshall and Kate Byrd from Belton, for being such passionate educators and for being great inspirations to the kids you teach. YOU ALL ARE AMAZING!

Keep up the great work and remember - Reduce, Reuse and Recycle!

Kelly Thorvalson