Wednesday, August 24, 2011

SCUTE volunteers donate medical equipment

It all started with a young boy named Timmy Mitten from Virginia. Timmy's family was on vacation in Garden City and one evening, Timmy helped the SCUTE (South Carolina United Turtle Enthusiasts) nest protection volunteers by keeping a close eye on the rising tide. He wanted to be sure it didn't interfere with the hatchlings making their way out of the nest. A little later, Timmy gave the team $1 to help sea turtles. He could have spent his money on candy or gum, or maybe a video game in the arcade, but all that was on Timmy's mind was helping the turtles. And that he did.

That dollar donation prompted the Garden City turtle team to find out if there were any medical needs in the Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital with which they could fund. That dollar turned into about $1,500 that has provided a new gurney (stretcher) and IV poles for the Sea Turtle Rescue Program!

Sue Harbemeyer spearheaded the time-consuming project to find a gurney that would accommodate sea turtles large and small, as they are transported from the basement hospital facility to the 1st floor medical clinic for x-rays and surgeries. The IV poles were ordered by Terry Senior and used during surgery only days after their arrival.

The photo below is of the gurney that we have used for approximately 4 years. Ripped and rusted, it has certainly seen it's better days!

And the new one from the SCUTE team...they sent an extra mattress, too!

The first use of the gurney was to force feed Yawkey (and it was successful).

We would like to extend a huge thanks to Sue and Hans Harbermeyer, Terry Senior, Linda and Dan Williams, Mari Armstrong, Franc Coker and of course, Timmy Mitten, for the much needed contributions to the Sea Turtle Rescue Program!

Kelly Thorvalson

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Couple gets engaged in the Sea Turtle Hospital!

With Beaufort the loggerhead peeking through the tank window, Nick Andrews dropped to one knee, opened a ring box, and asked Justine Francis to marry him. Justine was obviously very surprised and excitedly said "yes!"

Vacationing from Scranton, PA, the couple had planned to spend the afternoon at the South Carolina Aquarium and booked a behind-the-scenes tour of the Sea Turtle Hospital in advance. Nick knew that this would be the perfect setting for his proposal because of Justine's deep love for sea turtles.

To Nick and Justine-
Thank you for sharing this special moment with hospital staff and guests! We wish you a lifetime of health and happiness. Hopefully Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital will always hold a special place in your hearts.

Warmest regards,
Kelly Thorvalson

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sea Turtle Release Friday, August 19

Pack your swimsuits, get the kids from school, and head out to the Isle of Palms to watch 2 loggerheads and 1 Kemp's ridley be released back into the ocean after recuperating from various illnesses at the South Carolina Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital. In partnership with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) and the Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission, Beaufort, Capers and Laurel will be released at the Isle of Palms County Park on Friday, August 19th at 4:30 pm. County Park parking fees will apply.

This feisty 100-pound loggerhead was found floating in Battery Creek in Beaufort, SC on May 30, 2011. X-rays revealed intestinal air, possibly caused by an impaction. Beaufort’s treatment included antibiotics, fluids, and s/he received regular tube feeding of mineral oil, as well as weekly enemas. Beaufort finally passed the air trapped in her intestines and the staff is extremely happy that she can go home (so she'll quit trying to bite us when we work on her)!

The photo below is a nice comparison of Beaufort floating with her posterior (rear) end up and her present state of being neutrally buoyant.

This 94-pound loggerhead was picked up by SCDNR on their loggerhead trawl survey on May 31, 2011. Once on the boat, it was noted that Capers had a strange loss of keratin (protective layer) on the soft tissue and the bloodwork revealed anemia. She was transferred to the Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital for medical treatment which included two types of antibiotics, fluid therapy, topical skin treatment and vitamins. With her ailments resolved and her activity level finally that of a healthy, wild loggerhead, Capers is ready to go home.

This 7-pound Kemp's ridley was caught by a recreational fisherman on June 21, 2011 in Laurel Bay in Beaufort, SC. The circle hook in her esophagus required surgical removal by making a small incision in her neck and esophagus. This was done with the turtle fully anesthetized and in just over a week, Laurel was able to eat. The wound has now completely healed and Laurel is medically cleared for release.

To see the full medical updates including photos of these turtles, be sure to go to the Sea Turtle Hospital webpage at

Huge thanks to all involved in the rescue and successful rehabilitation of these sea turtles. We hope you will be able to come out to witness these amazing animals return to their natural habitat!

Kelly Thorvalson

Sunday, August 14, 2011

'Ten Toes Up' pays a visit to the sea turtles

Ten Toes Up, a local band that originated in Pawley's Island, SC, recently played for a fantastic event at the South Carolina Aquarium, the Shark, Rattle and Roll. It was there that they found out about Sea Turtle Hospital located in the aquarium's basement and decided to visit later in the week.

Sea Turtle Biologist, Whitney Daniel, and interns Kathryn Sobczyk and Kate Bender, were on hand to introduce the band members and manager to the twelve sick and injured sea turtles in our hospital.

Ten Toes Up: Thanks for playing the Shark, Rattle and Roll, for visiting the Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital and for putting great music out there! Y'all rock!

To learn more about Ten Toes Up and listen to some of their tracks, go to