Monday, June 7, 2010

Sea turtle stranding update and "Gala"

The South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program admits sick and injured sea turtles in need of rehabilitation with the goal of releasing them back into the ocean once deemed healthy. Since the program's inception, 51 sea turtles have been treated and released - a great number indeed!

The darker side of this story is that although we are making a big difference in the lives of sea turtles that overcome horrible injuries and illnesses, many more wash up on our beaches dead or are too sick to save. The numbers are grim: according to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, over the last 10 years, the average number of sea turtle standings on South Carolina beaches each year is 133. Already this year, 53 sea turtles have stranded. Of these, roughly 10% are alive and transported to the Sea Turtle Hospital. But even with the tireless efforts of the Aquarium’s turtle rescue staff, not all of them survive.

We experienced this with a recent patient. After 10 days of intensive medical treatment for severe anemia, hypoglycemia, internal parasitic and bacterial infections and much more, the debilitated loggerhead "Gala" that was rescued from Surfside Beach, passed. It is truly amazing that this turtle survived as long as s/he did but this certainly doesn't make the death any easier. A huge thank you goes out to all folks involved in the rescue and treatment of this animal as well as the support for our team.

With sea turtle season in full swing, I urge you all to remember and remind your friends to step lightly in the natural habitat of sea turtles:
  • Leave the beaches dark, clean and free of holes for the nesting loggerheads and the thousands of hatchlings that will start emerging from their nests in July.
  • Boat strikes are really taking a toll on all four species that occur off our coast – loggerheads, Kemp’s ridleys, greens and leatherbacks. If you are boating, please remember that sea turtles are in the waters all around you, inshore and offshore.
  • REDUCE, REUSE AND RECYCLE! The amount of trash that ends up in our waterways and ocean is horrifying and really brings to light the disposable culture in which we live. We all need to go the extra mile to create less trash in our daily lives. You can find some great ideas at
  • Do not disturb nesting sea turtles or emerging hatchlings and if you find a sick or injured sea turtle (or hook one on your fishing line), call the SCDNR hotline at 1-800-922-5431.
  • Support our efforts to save sick and injured sea turtles by becoming a stranded turtle adoptive parent, donating on line or visiting the Sea Turtle Hospital in person. More information can be found at

Thank you for caring about sea turtles!
Kelly Thorvalson