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