Saturday, April 28, 2012

Team Tortuga partners with Menchie's to save sea turtles!

Team Tortuga and Menchie's Frozen Yogurt are working together to raise awareness and funds for sea turtle this entire weekend. Bring this flier to Menchie's in Belle Hall and 20% of sales will be donated to Team Tortuga's efforts. To speak with the East Cooper Montessori kids that make up Team Tortuga and enjoy turtle crafts and face painting, visit Menchie's from 12-4pm today (Saturday, 4/28). Please forward the flier to your friends and family!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

First sea turtle release of the season on April 29!

In partnership with the SC Department of Natural Resources and Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission, the South Carolina Aquarium will be releasing 6 sea turtles back into the wild at the Isle of Palms County Park on April 29th at 10:30am. The public is invited to watch as 4 Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, 1 juvenile loggerhead, and the rare green/loggerhead hybrid rejoin sea turtle populations in the Atlantic Ocean. County Park gates will open at 9:30am (30 minutes earlier than normal for this occasion), and parking fees apply. Carpooling is strongly encouraged as traffic will be heavy into the park.

The loggerhead being released is Little River from Little River, SC. She suffered traumatic carapace injuries from a boat propeller, a partial front flipper amputation, and partial paralysis of the rear flippers. In the video below, Little River is pulled for a monthly weight check. The rear flipper usage is stronger out of water than she exhibits while swimming and we are confident that she will continue to gain movement in the wild.

The rare green/loggerhead hybrid sea turtle, Eclipse, and four Kemp's ridleys, Mason, Innis, Sampson and Eastham, have also been medically cleared for release. These animals were cold-stunned off the New England Coast in December and treated at the New England Aquarium, then transported to the South Carolina Aquarium in January. These young turtles are definitely the most active sea turtles currently in our care and can be seen swimming and enjoying various forms of enrichment. We offer a variety of enrichment to our sea turtles including fish pops, back scratchers, live crabs, and sleeping tubes.

Catching sea turtle patients napping in their tubes never ceases to delight staff, volunteers and hospital guests. Innis and Sampson are pictured below sleeping in their pipes.  Sea turtle are not able to retract into their shells like other turtles so in the wild they will sleep in the safety of caves and over hangs. The tubes in their tanks mimic these habitats and sea turtles of all sizes and species utilize them.

Fish pops, frozen water with fish, are great way for sea turtles to seek out their food in a totally different way than normal, providing brain stimulation and exercise for their jaw muscles! Below is a video of Eastham really enjoying his fish pop filled with mackerel and capelin.

Get involved! Learn more about each patient’s medical care in our Sea Turtle Hospital, visit the patients in the hospital this week before they get released – tour days and times are HERE, and come out to watch these animals be released into the wild next Sunday. It is an experience you won’t soon forget!
The Sea Turtle Rescue Team

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Debilitated loggerhead admitted into Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital

A severely debilitated loggerhead sea turtle was rescued on Saturday afternoon after being found floating in the Dewees Inlet. Rescuers Courtney, Jim, and their dog Moses, are no strangers to sea turtles, spending a great deal of time in coastal waters for work (Barrier Island Eco Tours) and play. While enjoying the beautiful spring day they encountered the sea turtle floating at the water's surface and it was obvious the animal was in distress. As they inched the boat closer to get a better look, the turtle was unable to dive.

Stranding team members from the Island Turtle Team and the SC Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) responded to the stranding call and transported the sea turtle to the Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital for medical treatment.

The emaciated turtle is covered in barnacles and other marine growth, a sign that the turtle was lethargic in the ocean. Also present is a necrotic lesion on the neck (close-up photo below). Once at the Aquarium, diagnostic tests revealed severe anemia (PVC 8%), hypoglycemia (no detectable blood glucose), and hypoproteinemia (very low blood protein level). In addition, the turtle had a very low heart rate of 12 beats per minute. 

Treatment included a cocktail of fluids (hetastarch, normasol, and 5% dextrose) administered subcutaneously, two antibiotics, vitamin injections, and wound treatment. The turtle was placed in a very shallow pool of fresh water overnight and although the turtle's prognosis is guarded, we were delighted to find her still alive this morning.

Huge thanks to Courtney, Jim and Moses for this timely rescue and to all of the first responders to sea turtle strandings along the SC coast managed by the SCDNR. Many thanks to our amazing sea turtle staff and volunteers whose help is essential in rehabilitating these critically ill sea turtles. Follow the turtle's progress on the main hospital webpage.

Kelly Thorvalson