South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program Treating Record Number of Patients

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25 Sea Turtles and Counting at the Sea Turtle Hospital

The South Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Rescue Program makes two major milestones in less than a month. The program released its 100th rehabilitated sea turtle in December, and is currently treating the most patients in its history. Eight new turtles are being admitted to the facility, three from North Carolina and an additional five that are being transferred from New England today.

More on the sea turtle transfer:
The East Coast is experiencing a massive cold-stunning event with hundreds of hypothermic sea turtles washing up on beaches from North Carolina all the way up to Maine. The influx of new patients has inundated rescue programs across the Northeast. To help free up space at those facilities, the South Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Rescue Program is taking on eight new patients. On Thursday, January 10th, three cold-stunned loggerhead sea turtles were transferred from North Carolina and today five cold-stunned sea turtles from the New England Aquarium are being flown down to Charleston for continued treatment. Today’s transfer includes four Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, the most endangered out of all the sea turtle species, as well as one loggerhead.

Sea turtle flight details:
Who: The New England Aquarium and the South Carolina Aquarium
What: Transfer of Five cold-stunned sea turtles
When: Monday, January 14, 2013 at 1:30 p.m.
Where: Atlantic Aviation in North Charleston
Why: The New England Aquarium needs to free up space at their facility for more cold-stunned sea turtles, and the South Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Rescue Program is helping by taking on five new patients.

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, and lethargy, all followed by shock, pneumonia and, in 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, typically around the end of October, sea turtles migrate to warmer waters.

How to Help:
You can help care for sea turtles 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 100 sea turtles and is currently treating 25 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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