A Big Send-off for Seven of the Most Endangered Sea Turtle Species Rehabilitated at the South Carolina Aquarium

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Turtles Flown to the Sunny South over the Winter Now Ready for Release

Seven Kemp's ridley sea turtles to be released

Surely a sight to see! Seven of the most endangered sea turtle species successfully rehabilitated at the South Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Rescue Program are ready to hit the open ocean once again. The sea turtle release, which is open to the public, is taking place at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, June 18th at Beachwalker County Park on Kiawah Island. 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). Attendees should plan to carpool, arrive early, and expect to pay for parking at the county park.

More on the turtles being released:
Cape Cod, Saint, Turbo, Crowe, and Davis:
These five turtles, all Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, were flown to Charleston, South Carolina in December of last year courtesy of Davis Air, Inc. based out of Charleston All were part of a massive cold-stunning event near Cape Cod Massachusetts which caused more than 230 sea turtles to strand. This group of turtles came to the South Carolina Aquarium to free up space for the New England Aquarium as part of an on-going partnership between the two facilities. Treatment included antibiotic and vitamin injections, fluid therapy, a healthy diet and regular physical examinations.

Cheyenne and Wellfleet:
These two sea turtles, also Kemp’s ridleys, were transported to the Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital a month after the previous group. They were also found cold stunned in New England and were flown down to South Carolina on a separate flight donated by pilot Michael Taylor. Treatment included antibiotic and vitamin injections, fluid therapy, a healthy diet and of course TLC.

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, which may be 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. In cold weather, they don’t have the ability to warm themselves and typically migrate to warmer waters around the end of October.

How to Help:
You can help care for sea turtles in recovery at the Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital by going to http://www.scaquarium.org and making a donation. While online, you can also visit the Sea Turtle Hospital’s blog at http://seaturtlehospital.blogspot.com/ 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 112 sea turtles and is currently treating 20 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 (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 scaquarium.org. Memberships are available by calling 843-577-FISH.

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Kate Dittloff
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