Friday, January 25, 2013

South Carolina Aquarium's Sea Turtle Rescue Program Releases 100th Sea Turtle!

The South Carolina Aquarium's Sea Turtle Rescue Program hit a major milestone on December 27, 2012 by releasing the 100th rehabilitated sea turtle back into the ocean! Gumby, a juvenile loggerhead that stranded on Kiawah Island June 26, 2011, was suffering from severe metabolic bone disease among other problems and the prognosis was poor. During Gumby's 18 month stay, s/he made amazing strides in the Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital. You can see his amazing recovery on past blogs here, here and here. Gumby was medically cleared in late December and released in the Gulf Stream off the coast of North Carolina by the crew the US Coast Guard Cutter Block Island!

Comparison Photographs

Comparsion shot of Gumby's changes after 6 months in the hospital.
Profile comparsion of Gumby after a year of medical treatment and expert care.
Size comparsion from admittance to a year in the hospital.

The Release

Gumby boarding the US Coast Guard Cutter Block Island.

Heading to the deck.
Crew prepping the basket to be lowered.
Off he goes...good luck, Gumby!

A Trip Through Time

Photographs taken throughout Gumby's stay in the South Carolina Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital.

We are so excited to have reached this milestone and it would not have been possible without a great deal of support.  A HUGE thanks to everyone involved over the years with the rescue, rehabilitation and release of 100 sea turtles from the South Carolina Aquarium! 

Whitney Daniel
Sea Turtle Biologist

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Recent Cold Stun Arrivals Bring Patient Load to 25

With the eastern coast of the US experiencing one of the largest cold-stunning events in history, the South Carolina Aquarium's Sea Turtle Rescue Program has admitted 18 cold stunned sea turtles since December to help. In addition to the ten endangered sea turtles flown in by private pilot on December 5th from New England, 8 additional sea turtles that originally cold stunned North Carolina and New England were recently admitted.

North Carolina Cold Stun Admissions

On Thursday, January 10th, South Carolina Aquarium staff met Sarah Finn from the NC Wildlife Commission at the NC/SC border to transfer three juvenile loggerheads that had recently cold stunned in NC.

Sarah carries a bin with one of the loggerhead sea turtles to the Aquarium's husbandry van.
Each turtle was transferred to a new transport container.
The loggerheads travel in separate containers with padding. It is not necessary to transport them in water since they are air breathers. 

Manteo immediately crawled to the corner of the bin but then stayed quiet for the rest of the ride.
Kit stays calm during the medical evaluation.
The turtles receive full physical examinations.
Buxton goes into the holding pool in the Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital.

New England Cold-Stun Admissions

On Monday, January 14th, five additional sea turtles were flown in by private pilot Michael Taylor from the Boston, MA area. The loggerhead and 4 Kemp's ridleys had been receiving treatment at the New England Aquarium's Animal Care Center.

The plane coming in for the landing at Atlantic Aviation in Charleston, SC.
The Piper Cheyenne 400 twin turboprop - a beautiful plane!
Owner and pilot, Michael Taylor lifts the juvenile loggerhead out of the cargo space...
...and hands it over to Kelly Thorvalson. What a gorgeous sea turtle!
Atlantic Aviation staff helps offload the boxes of Kemp's ridley sea turtles.
A close up photo of the loggerhead that has been named "Taylor" after the pilot. The purple band on the left flipper helped to identify the turtle during its stay at the New England Aquarium's Animal Care Center where many loggerheads are being treated.
The turtles get loaded into the Aquarium's husbandry van to be transported to the Sea Turtle Hospital.

Sea Turtle Biologist Christi Hughes and intern Joni Vaughn help to move the animals into the hospital.
The numbers on the sea turtles are for identification purposes at the New England Aquarium. With so many sea turtles in the tanks, these numbers kept staff organized with patient medications, medical procedures and feeding. 
Weights and measurements were taken and the turtles received full physical examinations.
They were then put into their respective holding tanks.
The Post and Courier and AP media were there to document the admission.
A Kemp's ridley with a healing neck lesion.
A Kemp's ridley with loss of keratin on the front of its face.
A huge THANK YOU to Michael Taylor for his generous donation of time and flight to get these animals safely to Charleston to finish treatment. Also to the hundreds of volunteers and donors that are instrumental in the rescue, transport, rehabilitation, and ultimate release of these sea turtles. 

With 25 sea turtles currently in treatment at the South Carolina Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital, it is a great time to visit! Learn more about the behind-the-scenes tours and visit them online by visiting the hospital webpage

Warmest wishes,
Kelly Thorvalson

Friday, January 4, 2013

Videos of Mini Ming and Ollie Enjoying a Healthy Snack!

The South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program wants to start your new year off with a smile! Enjoy the videos of Mini Ming and Ollie, two green sea turtles currently receiving treatment in the Aquarium's Sea Turtle Hospital, enjoying their favorite snack!
The Sea Turtle Hospital offers a variety of enrichment to all of its patients. One form of enrichment for green sea turtles is to offer vegetation. Hospital staff and interns have built feeders for the vegetables which allow the sea turtles to feed naturally from the bottom of the tank.
Mini Ming was found floating in Mingo Creek at Kiawah Island, SC. Notice the barnacles on the carapace (shell). A few larger barnacles on the carapace of sea turtles is normal and does not harm the animal. It is when a sea turtle becomes lethargic in the ocean for extended periods of time due to illness or injury that the barnacle load becomes so great, that secondary infection could result. 
Ollie was admitted to the Sea Turtle Hospital in October of 2012 with multiple boat strikes, the most severe to the upper jaw. We are thrilled to see how well Ollie is healing - the wound to his jaw has almost completely fused allowing him to eat with ease!
Come visit Mini Ming, Ollie, and the 15 other patients on a behind-the-scenes tour of our Sea Turtle Hospital!
Happy New Year!
Whitney Daniel