Monday, April 4, 2011

Little Debbie being released in Florida on Thursday!

On May 22, 2009, a critically endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtle was found on DeBordieu Beach in Georgetown County, SC. The turtle was very thin and barely hanging on to life. Upon arrival at the Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital, “Little Debbie” was diagnosed with severe pneumonia and a broken humerus in her front left flipper. It took over a month of nebulizers, antibiotic injections and supportive care for hospital staff to be confident she would survive, although treatments lasted for much longer.

After twenty-three months and a tremendous amount of medical support and care, Little Debbie is being released back into the ocean on Thursday. Without a doubt, she has left a lasting impression on those that have come in close contact with her. She will likely be remembered most for her spunky attitude, often splashing those that get near her tank, and because she is the most fun to watch chase and catch live blue crabs of any sea turtle ever treated in our program!

Many ask if Little Debbie will be o.k. in the wild after being in captive care for almost 2 years. I can say "yes" with confidence for several reasons: Sea turtles are remarkably instinctive and don't imprint like birds or mammals. They are benefitted by their small brains in this fact. Their instincts drive their behavior and you can't take this instinct away in 2 years. I always like to tell folks that our patients “will bite the hands that feed them.” Little Debbie is spunky, quick, and honestly, could care less about us. We are ok with this because our entire goal is to heal them and to get them back into the ocean to rejoin the wild population, in hopes that they will contribute reproductively to that population.

Little Debbie will be picked up very early Thursday morning to be transported to Cape Canaveral, Florida for release. If you’d like to see her one last time, you can visit on one of the Wednesday Sea Turtle Hospital tours, 11:30am or 1pm.

To all of our donors, Stranded Turtle Adoptive Parents, visitors, partners, and volunteers – thank you so much for all you do to make these successes possible! Kelly Thorvalson