Sea Turtles Flying to the Sunny South for Treatment at the South Carolina Aquarium

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The Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Rescue Program is taking on ten new patients.

The New England Aquarium’s Animal Care Center put out a call for help and the South Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Rescue Program answered!

Right now more than 140 sea turtles are being cared for at the New England Aquarium’s Animal Care Center, including 100 new cold stunned patients since last Monday alone. The South Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Rescue Program is helping make room for new patients by taking on 10 sea turtles found cold stunned on the New England Coast. Those turtles are being flown down to Charleston from the Boston area Wednesday, December 5th by pilot Gary Davis. Davis is the owner of Davis Air, Inc. based out of Charleston and has generously donated the flight. Davis along with Sea Turtle Rescue Program manager Kelly Thorvalson will arrive at Charleston International Airport around 11:30 a.m. The turtles will then be driven to the Sea Turtle Hospital located at the Aquarium where they will immediately receive care.

More on the sea turtle transfer:
Who: The South Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Rescue Program and the New England Aquarium’s Animal Care Center with the flight donated by Gary Davis of Davis Air.
What: Transfer of 10 sea turtles to the South Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital
When: Gary Davis and Kelly Thorvalson arrive back in Charleston today, December 5th at 11:30 a.m.
Where: Davis Air located at the Charleston International Airport (located at Atlantic Aviation)
Why: The South Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Rescue Program is helping the New England Aquarium free up space at their Animal Care Center by taking on 10 sea turtle patients (8 Kemp’s ridley and 2 green sea turtles)
More about Cold Stunning:
When sea turtles are exposed to cold water temperatures for long periods of time they undergo a hypothermic reaction. Symptoms of that reaction include a decreased heart rate, decreased circulation, lethargy, all followed by shock, pneumonia and in the worst case scenarios, death. Sea turtles are affected by cold stunning because they are cold-blooded reptiles that depend on their environment to regulate their body temperature. Because of that, in cold weather they don’t have the ability to warm themselves and that’s why in the winter sea turtles migrate to warmer waters typically around the end of October.

How to Help:
You can help care for sea turtles stunned by the cold or those in recovery at the Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital by going to and making a donation. While online you can also visit the Sea Turtle Hospital’s blog at to track the progress of patients currently being cared for at the hospital. You can also find out more about visiting the hospital as part of a behind-the-scenes tour.

For all media inquiries, please contact Kate Dittloff at (843) 579-8660 or kdittloff(at)scaquarium(dot)org

About the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program:
In partnership with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program works to rescue, rehabilitate and release sea turtles that strand along the South Carolina coast. Located in the Aquarium, the Sea Turtle Hospital admits 20 to 30 sea turtles each year. Many of these animals are in critical condition and some are too sick to save.

According to SCDNR, over the last 10 years the average number of sea turtle standings on South Carolina beaches each year is 130. Of these, roughly 10% are alive and successfully transported to the Sea Turtle Hospital. To date, the South Carolina Aquarium has successfully rehabilitated and released 99 sea turtles and is currently treating 8 patients. The average cost for each patient’s treatment is $36 a day with the average length of stay reaching nine months.

About the South Carolina Aquarium:
The South Carolina Aquarium, Charleston’s most visited attraction, features thousands of amazing aquatic animals from river otters and sharks to loggerhead turtles in more than 60 exhibits representing the rich biodiversity of South Carolina from the mountains to the sea. Dedicated to promoting education and conservation, the Aquarium also presents fabulous views of Charleston harbor and interactive exhibits and programs for visitors of all ages.

The South Carolina Aquarium, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization and is open Daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Aquarium is closed Thanksgiving Day, half day Dec. 24 (open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) and Dec. 25. Admission prices are: Toddler’s (3 and under) free; Youth (4-12) $14.95; Adults (13+) $24.95. The Aquarium plus the 4-D Theater experience is free for Toddler’s, $19.95 for Children, $29.95 for Adults. The 4-D Theater experience only is $6.95 for Children and adults, and free for Members. For more information call 843-720-1990 or visit Memberships are available by calling 843-577-FISH.


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Kate Dittloff
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