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