Six Sea Turtles, Including a Rare Hybrid, Set to Kick-off the Sea Turtle Release Season for the South Carolina Aquarium

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Happy, Healthy and Ready to Hit the Open Ocean

Sea Turtle Rescue Program

It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to see not one, not two, but six sea turtles be released back into the Atlantic Ocean. The turtles have spent the winter at the South Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital recovering from various injuries, and now all have been cleared for release! Join us on Sunday, April 29th at 10:30 a.m. at the Isle of Palms County Park on the Isle of Palms. The release is being held in partnership with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) and the Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission (CCPRC). The event is open to the public; attendees should plan to carpool, arrive early, and expect to pay for parking at the County Park.

More on the sea turtles being released:
Little River:
Little River is a 73-pound loggerhead sea turtle. S/he was found floating in Little River near the North Carolina border on May 27, 2011. Little River’s injuries included three boat propeller strikes to the shell and a partial front flipper amputation, possibly the result of a predator encounter. Treatment included wound care, antibiotics, vitamin injections and physical therapy. Little River has spent eleven months with us in the hospital and is certainly ready for a new adventure back in his/her natural habitat.

Eastham, Eclipse, Mason, Innis and Sampson:
This group of five turtles is part of a larger group that arrived at the Aquarium on January 15th via a first-class flight from Massachusetts on a private luxury jet! All were initially found cold-stunned off the Cape Cod coast in late November and December of last year. Cold-stunning occurs when sudden drops in air temperature cause coastal water temperatures to drop quickly. If sea turtles are exposed to these rapid reductions in water temperature, they may become hypothermic and unable to swim. This group of turtles was transferred to the South Carolina Aquarium to free up resources at the New England Aquarium where they were initially treated. In our hospital, treatment for the four Kemp’s ridleys and the hybrid sea turtle included antibiotics and vitamin injections. All have received a clean bill of health and are ready to return to the wild ocean! At the release, you’ll want to keep your eye out for Eclipse, the rare hybrid sea turtle. S/he is the first hybrid that the South Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Rescue Program has ever treated! DNA results indicate that s/he is a cross between a loggerhead and a green sea turtle. The Aquarium wants to send a special thank you to Mason Holland, owner of Eclipse Aerospace, for making the transfer from Boston to Charleston possible.

Turtle Release Details:

  • Six patients being released
  • April 29, 2012
  • 10:30 a.m.
  • Isle of Palms County Park, Isle of Palms, S.C.
  • Arrive early to get parking and avoid lines (parking fees apply)
  • Visitors are encouraged to carpool!

It costs approximately $36 per day to treat each sea turtle in the hospital, which amounts to a program budget of close to $321,000 each year. The Sea Turtle Rescue Program is part of the South Carolina Aquarium, a 501(c)3 non-profit that relies on the support of the community to treat and rehabilitate these endangered species. You can help support the program by making a donation and by visiting the hospital on a behind-the-scenes tour. Just go to http://www.scaquarium.org for more information. With your support, staff can continue to rehabilitate sick and injured sea turtles found along our coast.

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 83 sea turtles and is currently treating 13 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 6 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 (1 and under) free; Youth (2-11) $12.95; Adults (12-61) $19.95; Seniors (62+) $18.95. The Aquarium plus the 4-D Theater experience is free for Toddler’s, $17.95 for Children, $24.95 for Adults, and $23.95 for Seniors. The 4-D Theater experience only is $6.95 for Children, Adults and Seniors and $2.95 for Members and Member Guests. Military, senior, college and group discounts are available. For more information call 843-720-1990 or visit scaquarium.org. Memberships are available by calling 843-577-FISH.

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Kate Dittloff
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