Monday, November 28, 2011

The Sarkowski Triplets Raise Funds for the Sea Turtle Rescue Program!

For the second year in a row, the Sarkowski girls have given our sea turtle patients a commendable gift. In lieu of presents for their birthday, Gracie, McKae, and Aubrey requested donations to help provide food and medical treatment for the turtles recovering in our hospital. To date, these amazing triplets have raised $510!

The girls’ parents, Staci and Chris, have nurtured a love of nature in their three daughters and are truly leading by example. Chris often takes the triplets kayaking through the salt marsh around Sullivan’s Island, where birds and diamondback terrapins are abundant in the early morning hours. McKae, Aubrey, and Gracie also spent part of their summer helping mom, Staci, patrol the beaches of Isle of Palms in search of sea turtle nests. Staci landed a rare volunteer spot on the Isle of Palms turtle team this year, which gave the triplets the rare opportunity to learn how to identify sea turtle tracks and nests and even witness eggshells and hatchlings being excavated from a nest during an inventory.

During their visit to the hospital, the girls were drawn to our charismatic little loggerhead, Gumby. Although Gumby looks strong and healthy now, he is still recovering from severe metabolic bone disease. Aubrey, Gracie, and McKae were only able to appreciate how unhealthy Gumby was when he was first admitted into our hospital when they viewed his radiographs, which clearly show the deterioration of his skeletal system at admittance and the great improvements he’s made since last June.

I am truly thankful that this wonderful family has chosen our sea turtle hospital as the recipient of their donation. These girls give me great hope that our wild animals and the habitats we all depend upon will continue to be valued in the future.

Thank you, Sarkowski family!
Christi Hughes

Monday, November 7, 2011

Little River update (with video)

You can't miss Little River when you visit the South Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital - "she" is the one splashing water across the room! This juvenile loggerhead sea turtle was admitted to the hospital in May of 2011 with 3 propeller strikes in her shell. She is extremely lucky to be alive since the fractures cut deeply across the vertebral scutes.

Periodically, we find Little River resting at the bottom of her tank, floating on one side (see photo below). Of greater concern to hospital staff is the limited use of her rear flippers, indicating that she has suffered spinal damage from the strikes. While most sea turtle patients use their rear flippers to aid in moving around their holding pools, Little River’s rear flippers remain motionless when she swims. This is partially why she splashes so much as she swims to the water's surface to take a breath of air. It isn't until someone physically stimulates the rear flippers or shell that we see that she actually CAN move them. Upon touch, she draws her rear flippers into her body and moves them a bit more.

The two videos below allow for comparison of rear flipper movement by Little River and another loggerhead currently being treated at the Sea Turtle Hospital, Hamlin Creek.

We are working with Little River to increase rear flipper movement by providing alternative therapies such as physical therapy, shell stimulation, and electroacupuncture (thanks to Dr. Steve Canion). However, having limited movement in the rear flippers would not keep Little River from eventually being released back into the wild. When Dr. Boylan and hospital staff deem her strong enough to survive on her own, she will be set free. In the meantime, check back here to find video of how Little River is responding to therapies!

Kelly Thorvalson