Wednesday, May 15, 2013

First Beach Release of 2013 on May 23rd at Isle of Palms County Park!

In partnership with the SC Department of Natural Resources and Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission, the South Carolina Aquarium will be releasing 5 rehabilitated sea turtles at the Isle of Palms County Park on May 23rd at 4 pm. The public is invited to watch as a Kemp’s ridley, 2 loggerheads and 2 green sea turtles rejoin sea turtle populations in the Atlantic Ocean.  County Park parking fees apply and carpooling is strongly encouraged as traffic will be heavy into the park.

Birdie is a Kemp's ridley from South Carolina (Bird Key) that was found by a fisherman entangled in monofilament fishing line. We are grateful to so many boaters and fishermen that find these sick and injured animals in the water and bring them to safety.
Birdie had monofilament entangled around the neck and left front and rear flippers.
The worst of the entanglements was the left knee. The fishing line had wrapped multiple times around the joint, cutting deeply into the skin.
Had the fisherman not found the turtle when he did, Birdie may have lost the rear flipper and ultimately his life. Birdie has now fully recovered and his limbs are in great condition!

Manteo, a loggerhead, was one of almost 80 sea turtles that cold-stunned off the North Carolina coast this past winter. In an effort to help NC facilities that were overrun with patients, Manteo was one of three loggerheads to be admitted to the South Carolina Aquarium and is the last of the three to be released.

Profile shot of the lethargic, cold-stunned Manteo.
A healthy Manteo getting weighed in our Sea Turtle Hospital.
Taylor is a loggerhead that cold-stunned off the New England coast this past winter. When the New England Aquarium was swamped with cold-stunned sea turtles this winter, Taylor and several Kemp's ridleys flew first class to Charleston in a Cheyenne Turbo Prop donated by owner and pilot Michael Taylor. When Taylor was first admitted, he had a heart rate of only 8 beats per minute and was very ill. It took him a month to begin eating.

Taylor right off the plane.
Taylor had many lesions and cuts on the soft tissue and plastron. We are thrilled that he has made a full recovery and is ready for release!

Barney and McCann
These two juvenile green sea turtles cold-stunned off the New England coast in December 2012 and were flown to the South Carolina Aquarium by pilot Gary Davis of Davis Air, Inc. and copilot Neal McCann. These once cold, lethargic sea turtles have transformed into strong, wild animals. We love seeing how feisty the turtles get when they are feeling better!

Barney just after he arrived at the South Carolina Aquarium.

Barney (left) and tankmate, Bristol (right), in the Aquairum's Sea Turtle Hospital. The greens have such beautiful starburst pattens on their scutes! 
McCann, named after co-pilot Neal McCann, has made a quick recovery.
Several months after arrival, a feisty McCann is taken out of his tank for weights and measurements.
 Tips for having a great sea turtle release:
  • Come out as early as possible (as much as 2 hours early) so you get a good parking place and a good spot on the ropes. The beach is a wonderful place to be!
  • Plan to pay for County Park parking fees.
  • The releases are usually very well attended and traffic gets very heavy. Carpool to lessen the traffic coming onto the Isle of Palms and into the County Park. 
  • Look for people wearing yellow Sea Turtle Rescue shirts and ask lots of questions about the program and turtles being released.
  • Bring water in a reusable water bottle.
  • Bring a camera and take lots of photos!
We hope to see you there!
Kelly Thorvalson
Sea Turtle Rescue Program Manager