Thursday, December 29, 2011

Gumby is growing and thriving

If you haven’t seen Gumby since this summer, you wouldn’t recognize him. This feisty and aggressive loggerhead no longer bears any resemblance to the little sea turtle that floated nearly motionless at the surface of his tank when he was admitted. Months of intensive treatment which included daily calcium supplementation, daily trips outside for sun baths to allow for dermal synthesis of vitamin D, and a strict diet high in calcium and vitamin D, have successfully resolved Gumby’s severe metabolic bone disease.

Upon arrival, Gumby could not feed on his own and had to be tong fed.
Gumby is now very aggressive during feedings.
Charleston Veterinary Referral Center, which has donated multiple diagnostic CT and MRI scans for our sick and injured sea turtles, welcomed Gumby for a CT scan on December 1st. The CT scan allowed us to measure Gumby’s bone density, and we are thrilled to report that it is now within normal range.

Gumby goes for CT scan
3-D CT scan
Although our treatment has strengthened Gumby’s skeletal system, we do have several concerns regarding his overall fitness and potential for release back into the wild. Pathological fractures are always a concern with severe cases of metabolic bone disease, and recent radiographs confirm that Gumby’s femurs (thigh bones) and metacarpals (wrist bones) are bowed. Additionally, Gumby’s pectoral girdle, which consists of the bones that anchor the critically important pectoral swimming muscles, is poorly developed. These abnormalities are likely the result of the poor husbandry and inadequate diet we suspect this little turtle endured before he stranded on a Kiawah beach last June. 

X-ray comparison from admission to November 2011
On a positive note, Gumby has more than doubled in size since last June, and his overall demeanor has improved drastically. He is enjoying a large tank with a sea bass for a tank mate, and we continue our efforts to enrich his life and improve his health. If it’s been a few months since you’ve seen this amazing little loggerhead, come by the Aquarium for a visit! When he’s up to his usual antics, this charismatic little turtle never fails to elicit smiles and laughter.

"Come see me!"
Christi Hughes 
Sea Turtle Biologist

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Greening your Holidays!

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average US resident produces approximately 5 pounds of trash per day during the holiday season. Together, this produces over 250 million tons of waste in just a month's time. As we learn more about how the planet negatively responds to our impacts, we should make efforts to reduce our ecological footprint. Let's give a gift to Mother Earth this year by greening our holidays!

E-cards: Join the upcoming trend by sending e-cards instead of actual holiday cards. There are several sites that sell e-cards and even allow you to create your own personalized cards with family photos! Save trees, postage, and the gas it takes to fly your cards from one place to another!

Make your own ornaments: Instead of buying ornaments, make your own! It’s a great way to spend time with your family and create art. Check out the ornaments you can make from your old incandescent light bulbs! Be sure to look up all the great, inexpensive ornament ideas on the web!

Wrapping in style: Instead of using store bought wrapping paper, make wrapping more unique! Use newspaper, children’s art work, sheet music, and old maps for a special twist to your presents. This adds personal touches to each gift, and ensures great family fun. If you have to use gift wrap, select those made from recycled material.

Invest in LED lights: Replace your string lights with LED’s (light emitting diodes). LED’s use 60-80% less energy and can burn up to 100,000 hours (~10 years). These little lights can make a huge difference on energy bills and will last much longer!

Say No to Plastic: While out shopping, bring your canvas and cloth bags. Some stores will actually give a discount if you bring your own! This will help keep plastic bags out of our landfills and waterways. Challenge yourself to buy gifts, foods and candies without all the plastic packaging.

Buy Local: When you are out buying gifts, shop locally and buy from local artists. This will provide a one of kind gift while helping your local economy. Also, while preparing your holiday menu, try to use ingredients you can find at your local farmers market!

The Gift of Giving: Instead of buying traditional gifts, support charities, non-profits or make donations in honor of loved ones. Check out the South Carolina Aquarium's Gift Giving Guide at

Useful links:
Lowcountry Local First -
Charleston Coffee Roasters -

Hope you enjoy greening your holiday this year!

Warmest wishes,
Whitney Daniel and the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program