More than a Dozen Sick Sea Turtles from New England Flown Nearly 1,000 Miles to the South Carolina Aquarium

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South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program Has Record Intake of New Patients

Dr. Shane Boylan Admits A Sea Turtle Patient to the South Carolina Aquarium

Fifteen new sea turtles were just admitted to the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program, a new record intake for the non-profit’s largest conservation program. The patients were flown from Boston last night on a donated flight and will spend the next few months recuperating at the Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital.

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The turtles, 14 Kemp’s ridleys, the most endangered of the sea turtle species, and one green sea turtle, were part of a massive cold-stunning event along the New England coast. In just the past week, the New England Aquarium, located in Boston, has admitted more than 150 cold-stunned sea turtles found along the Massachusetts coastline. The influx of new patients has inundated the New England Aquarium, prompting the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) northeast stranding staff to reach out to other facilities along the East Coast for assistance. The South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program responded to the call and secured a private flight for 31 affected turtles. The flight was generously donated by Margie and Will Dorminy, Charleston locals and owners of Southern Eagle Distributing. Fifteen of the turtles are now receiving care at the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program. The remaining 16 turtles were transferred to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center located on Jekyll Island. The Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital is now treating 23 sea turtle patients representing three different species.

More about Cold-Stunning:
Sea turtles are cold-blooded reptiles that depend on their environment to regulate their body temperature. Typically, sea turtles migrate to warmer waters in the fall but if they don’t make the migration before coastal water temperatures drop, they suffer from hypothermia, also known as cold-stunning. Symptoms of cold-stunning include a decreased heart and respiration rates, decreased circulation, and lethargy, all followed by shock, pneumonia and, in worst case scenarios, death.

What Can You Do?:
You, too, can help threatened and endangered sea turtles. If you find a sick or injured sea turtle, contact the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) sea turtle hotline at (800) 922-5431. You can also help care for sea turtles in recovery in the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program by going to scaquarium.org and making a donation.

To track the progress of current patients in recovery, visit our Sea Turtle Rescue Program blog at scaquarium.org. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates from the hospital, including public sea turtle release details.

Fast Facts:

  • Thirty-one Kemp’s ridley sea turtles flown to Charleston last night.
  • The turtles were flown on a private flight generously donated by Will and Margie Dorminy.
  • Fifteen of those turtles were transferred to the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program.
  • This is a record patient intake for the Sea Turtle Hospital.
  • The Sea Turtle Hospital is now treating 23 sea turtle patients.
  • The public can visit the turtle patients by booking a Sea Turtle Hospital 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, during the past 10 years the average number of sea turtle standings on South Carolina beaches each year is 128. Of these, roughly 10 percent are alive and successfully transported to the Sea Turtle Hospital. To date, the South Carolina Aquarium has successfully rehabilitated and released 143 sea turtles and is currently treating 23 patients. The average cost for each patient’s treatment is $35 per 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: Toddlers (2 and under) free; Youth (3-12) $17.95; Adults (13+) $24.95. The Aquarium plus the 4-D Theater experience is free for Toddlers, $22.95 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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