Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A note from Megan, a Sea Turtle Rescue Program Intern

Hello everyone! As you may already know, the Sea Turtle Rescue Program could not run without it's roughly 16 volunteers. Among those volunteers are 2 interns working for college credit and/or experience within their field. I happen to be one of them, and I'd just like to introduce myself and in the future, keep you updated on some of the things that are happening around the Sea Turtle Hospital!

The Sea Turtle Hospital

My name is Megan and I've lived my entire life in Wisconsin, until now. I know, I know, there aren't very many sea turtle strandings in Wisconsin! But upon graduating from the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point, with a major in Wildlife Education, I was looking for internships to further my career. Thankfully, I crossed paths with the South Carolina Aquarium and the Sea Turtle Rescue Program on the internet. After going through the application and interview process, and moving my entire life in one tiny little car down to Charleston (including my dog), I'm happy to report that it was love at first sight! I had never experienced sea turtles in close proximity before but on my first day working at the South Carolina Aquarium, I was in awe of them thinking what amazing creatures they are and how they need out help to thrive in the world's oceans.

Treating and wrapping the flipper wound on a 190-pound loggerhead, Dawsey.

Intern duties are varied. Most days include food prep and feeding our turtles a varied diet they need to become healthy again. The Sea Turtle Hospital has provided many firsts for the non-seafood-lover that I am...cutting up raw fish, de-tailing shrimp, and feeding live blue crabs to sea turtles (more on this later in another post!). Interns are also responsible for helping with general cleaning of the tanks and the hospital, helping with public tours that are given 5 days a week (Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 11:30am and 1pm), never ending laundry, and many other random projects that need to be done. However, if there is a stranded turtle, we may come in on our day off to assist with the initial treatments. On the days that we're actually scheduled to work, our afternoons may be filled with treatments for that turtle. These treatments are time consuming but also very rewarding!

Above: Assisting in surgery to remove a stingray barb from the neck of an endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtle.

Above: Giving physical therapy to a green sea turtle, Ripley, that is suffering from partial paralysis due to a boat strike very close to the spinal cord.
That is all for now, but please check back for updates on some of the exciting things happening around the hospital - like the different forms of enrichment for both our sea turtles and our "honorary turtles" that have taken up temporary residence in the hospital.

Megan Walsh
Sea Turtle Rescue Program Intern