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

Monday, April 6, 2009

Four sea turtles released to kick off the season!

Waiting for the conditions in the spring to be suitable for an offshore sea turtle release takes patience, good communication and is really quite time consuming. But on Sunday, April 5, everything fell into place for the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program as it celebrated the release of 4 more sea turtles back into the wild, bringing the total number of releases for the program to 36!

The 2 green sea turtles, affectionatley named Carter and Emerald, and 2 loggerhead sea turtles, Godfrey and Lookout, came to the Aquarium's Turtle Hospital after stranding on North Carolina beaches in November 2008 where 60-80 sea turtles stranded as part of a large cold-stunning event. The turtles were released from the boat El Tejano, with help from a full crew of 10 including Aquarium Board members, SCA Sea Turtle Rescue Program staff and media. Aquarium friend and El Tejano owner, John Hill, offered to use his 66' Bertram to aid in the release that took place approximately 60 miles offshore. When 70 degree F water was found, the sea turtles were released one by one. Each healthy sea turtle took to the ocean like they had never left and excitedly swam away into the clear blue gulf stream water.
As coastal waters warm, these sea turtles and many more will move closer and closer to shore for feeding purposes and for the nesting females, to look for safe areas on the beaches to lay their eggs. Incorporating these conservation tips into your daily life will help to keep sea turtles safe in the ocean and on our beaches.

  • From May-October, minimize artificial lighting on beachfront homes and avoid using flashlights on the beach.

  • Remove recreational equipment from the beach overnight.

  • Properly dispose of trash and get involved in beach sweeps.

  • When boating, keep watch for sea turtles surfacing to breathe.

  • Conatact local authorities if you see a sick or injured sea turtle.

Also, be sure to visit the South Carolina Aquarium and Turtle Hospital. It is a fun and educational experience for everyone and also supports the rescue efforts for these amazing animals whose populations are in danger.

A huge thanks goes out to all involved in the rescue of these sea turtles in North Carolina, to SCDNR for transporting of the animals to our facility, to John Hill for the use of his time, boat and crew, David and Charlie, and to everyone else on board involved with this successful release!
Kelly Thorvalson

Thursday, April 2, 2009

First live stranding of 2009

On Saturday, March 28, 2009, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) responded to a call from the Kiawah Island turtle team that a loggerhead had stranded on the beach and was still alive. The SCDNR picked up the 80-pound debilitated loggerhead from the island and transported it to the Aquarium’s Turtle Hospital. The emaciated and mildy dehydrated turtle was covered with a large amount of epibiota on the shell, flippers, and head. This condition is often described as Debilitated Turtle Syndrome (DTS). Initial bloodwork was taken and analyzed. Most pressing was the lack of any blood glucose (severe hypoglycemia). Fluid therapy, antibiotics, and dextrose were administered over a few hours on Saturday afternoon/evening and treatments continued Sunday. Named after the beach on which the turtle was found, “Kiawah” started eating small amounts of fish this week. Radiographs will soon be taken and supportive therapy continues. Hospital staff are keeping a very close eye on this animal.

Thank you to the folks involved in the rescue including Jamie Bell, Joe Pezzullo and Art Zackrison from Kiawah and DuBose Griffin from the SC Department of Natural Resources. Thanks also to our dedicated hospital volunteers and intern Jacquline Gobien. This animal has a good chance for survival because of everyone’s quick actions!

Once again, the Turtle Hospital has reached a number of patients never held at one time before...13! Be sure to come to visit us soon for the rare opportunty to come face to face with these threatened and endangered species. 4 of these sea turtles will be released over the next few weeks in the warm waters offshore so stay tuned to the blog for more updates!

Kelly Thorvalson and Shane Boylan