Endangered Sea Turtles Set For Release Today by the South Carolina Aquarium

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Rehabilitation at the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Hospital Saves Four Kemps Ridley Sea Turtles

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Four additional sea turtles have been successfully rehabilitated by the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program and are ready to return to the wild. The turtles, all Kemp’s ridleys, the most endangered of the sea turtle species, are being released this afternoon at Cape Canaveral National Seashore in Titusville, Fla. A representative from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission is driving the turtles to Florida where the water temperatures and habitat are suitable for the juvenile Kemp’s ridley sea turtles this time of year. This release marks 154 threatened and endangered sea turtles successfully treated by the Sea Turtle Rescue Program.

About the sea turtles:
Ryder, Teeter, Beech and Scarlet: These four sea turtles were all part of a massive stranding event along the New England coast in November 2014, during which time more than 1,000 sea turtles were found near death from hypothermia after a severe cold front hit Massachusetts’ coastal areas. The turtles were flown to Charleston via a private flight generously donated by Will and Margie Dorminy, local residents and owners of Southern Eagle Distributing. The turtles were treated with antibiotics, fluids and vitamin injections. Ryder also suffered from frostbite and injuries were treated with antibiotic ointments to prevent infection and aid in healing. After three months of care, all four are ready to be released in the warm waters off Florida’s coast.

About cold-stunning:
Sea turtles are cold-blooded reptiles that depend on the environment to regulate their body temperature. Typically, sea turtles migrate to warmer waters when the water starts cooling in the fall. 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 rate, decreased circulation, and lethargy, followed by shock, pneumonia and, in worst case scenarios, death.

What can you do?:
You can help protect 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 may 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 read about our patients or track their recovery progress, 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:

  • Four Kemp’s ridley sea turtles set to return to the Atlantic Ocean today, March 6, 2015
  • The turtles will be released in the warm waters of Cape Canaveral National Seashore, Florida
  • This release marks 154 threatened and endangered sea turtles rescued, rehabilitated, and released by the Sea Turtle Rescue Program
  • The public may visit the Sea Turtle Hospital and current patients by booking a tour online, http://www.scaquarium.org/tours or by calling (843) 577-3474

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 154 sea turtles and is currently treating 15 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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Kate Dittloff
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