Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Small green sea turtle admitted to the Sea Turtle Hospital

The 6.5 pound green sea turtle with a propeller strike across the shell was picked up by the SCDNR Monday afternoon at Ripley Light Marina in Charleston and luckily, didn't have far to travel for medical attention. The injured turtle had been spotted over the weekend in the waters around the Ashley River but had just been able to be captured.
With preliminary bloodwork completed, hospital staff were elated to get a PCV of 26, an indicator that the turtle had not lost a lot of blood. The wound was flushed with copious amounts of saline and with every syringe, the turtle flinched with pain. In addition to subcutaneous fluids and an antibiotic injection, Ripley received pain medications to make "him" more comfortable. Finally, the wound was packed with silver-sulfadiazine, an ointment with antibacterial and antifungal agents, and placed in a small tub with wet foam overnight.

This wound is deep and it is difficult to see if lung tissue has been compromised. The prognosis is still guarded but we are hopeful for a full recovery.

Thanks to the folks at Ripley Light Marina for their assistance in rescuing this animal and to Arturo from SCDNR for transporting it to the Aquarium. Future updates will be posted on the main hospital webpage.


Folly Beach sea turtle release

Saturday was a perfect day for a sea turtle release! South Carolina Aquarium staff and volunteers started setting up on Folly Beach around 2:30 pm and spectators gathered soon after, attempting to beat the crowds for a parking place and a good spot on the ropes. The release took place at 4 pm and hundreds were there to take it all in.

Below: Intern Kristen Jay from Folly Beach gives spectators a closer view before letting Surfer crawl to the water on "his" own. Once on the sand, the endangered Kemp's ridley didn't stop until he hit the water!

Below: Dr. Boylan and I give Santos a lift down the beach and much to the amusement of the onlookers, the loggerhead proceeded to turn around a couple of times. It only took a little encouragement for Santos to make his way to the water for a memorable release.

Thanks to all that are involved in making this happen - there are too many to name but you know who you are!


Monday, August 30, 2010

North Myrtle gets released after 2 years of treatment

The 100-pound loggerhead sea turtle, North Myrtle, was released Tuesday, August 24 after being treated for just under 2 years by the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program. North Myrtle was admitted with 7 fractures in the carapace (top shell) on September 3, 2008. North Myrtle was also suffering from pneumonia upon arrival at the Sea Turtle Hospital and was in critical condition for over a month. Below is a photo of North Myrtle a week after being admitted.

About four months after arriving at the Sea Turtle Hospital, the dead bone had finally all come out and healthy granulation tissue replaced open wounds. Keratin (the brown layer over the bone) also started its slow growth which would eventually provide stability and a protective barrier to the fractures.

It took almost 2 years for the carapace to stabilize enough for the turtle to be released but that day finally arrived on August 24th. North Myrtle was released from the Aquarium's Scout boat a few miles off the coast of Folly Beach.

North Myrtle was not only a difficult medical case to treat but "she" was a difficult turtle to take care of - period. She was picky about the types of fish she ate, messy when she decided to eat, and consistently splashed her caregivers and anyone else that came close to her tank. Not only that, but staff and volunteers were ALWAYS having to squeegee water from around her tank to keep the area safe to walk. For all of these reasons and simply because she defied death, North Myrtle has left a lasting impression on any and all that met her. We wish her the best in that big (and dangerous) ocean out there.

Thank you to all that have been a part of making this animal's release a reality!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sea Turtle Beach Release Saturday, August 28th at Folly Beach County Park!

In partnership with the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission and the SC Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), the South Carolina Aquarium will release 2 rehabilitated sea turtles at the Folly Beach County Park on Saturday, August 28 at 4pm. County Park parking fees apply.

The 100-pound loggerhead, Santos, was cold-stunned off the New England coast in the winter of ‘08 and treated for a year at the Marine Animal Rehabilitation Center at the University of New England. In November of ‘09, the turtle was transported to the South Carolina Aquarium to finish healing, catching a ride in a small Piper Twin Comanche with private pilot, Ronnie Santos from Mount Pleasant, SC. We are grateful for Ronnie and the East Cooper Pilot’s Association for this wonderful support!

The juvenile Kemp’s ridley, Surfer, was caught on hook and line just 4 months ago by a surf fisherman on Hilton Head, SC. Kemp’s ridleys are commonly found in near shore waters in the summertime and are prone to getting caught by recreational fishermen. Surfer underwent surgery to remove the hook that was deeply embedded in the esophagus. A hook that is left in the esophagus of a turtle in the wild can be problematic, possibly resulting in death and we congratulate all fishermen who turn these “hooked” endangered species over to the SCDNR.
Sea turtle releases often draw large crowds so it is strongly advised that if you are attending, plan for heavy traffic onto Folly Beach and especially out to the County Park. Carpool if possible, as parking may be limited. We look forward to seeing you there!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Kids put their money where their hearts are...

I am consistently amazed by the generosity of many young people that give so willingly and selflessly to organizations like the Aquarium's Sea Turtle Rescue Program. Three wonderful donations from kids have come in over the last couple of months and I would like to share their stories with you:

6-year old Emmett lives in Orlando, Florida and on a trip to visit his uncle in Charleston during the winter holidays, the family toured the South Carolina Aquarium and Sea Turtle Hospital. Emmett especially enjoyed meeting the sea turtle patients and went home with ideas on how he could help them. Emmett made and sold bracelets and was able to raise $125! I am told that Emmett has more fundraising planned for the hospital and we are grateful for his commitment to sea turtle conservation!

13-year old Mackenzie from Gahanna, Ohio visited the Sea Turtle Hospital last summer and was fortunate to see the release of 3 sea turtles during her trip. It was after this visit that she made it her mission to help the sick and injured sea turtles in our care. Mackenzie recently returned to Charleston in celebration of her 13th birthday and donated $700 that she raised for the Sea Turtle Rescue Program in lieu of receiving gifts. Happy 13th Birthday, Mackenzie!

Ethan Harrison from Ontario, Canada has been raising funds for the Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Rescue Program since he was 4-years old. From thousands of miles away, Ethan has supported the sea turtles for half of his life! Now 8, Ethan recently visited Charleston to deliver his latest and largest donation of $2000 bringing Ethan’s total donation to about $5000 in 4 years! It has been wonderful to watch Ethan grow and one thing never changes, his passion for helping sea turtles!

These kids are making a difference in the world. Their donations help to rehabilitate sick and injured sea turtles, giving them another chance at life. But much bigger is the impact these kids have on the people they come into contact with during their fundraising efforts. Every birthday party attendee or person adorned with a bracelet to save the sea turtles, every individual shopping at the garage sale or the station attendant giving money for bottle deposits that help save sea turtles, every friend, teacher, aunt or uncle who hears and learns from these children – these kids are educating, advocating and making a much bigger difference in sea turtle conservation than we all know!

Thank you Emmett, Mackenzie, Ethan and all the kids who are making a difference in the world!