Threatened Sea Turtles Returned to the Wild by the South Carolina Aquarium After Being Found Near Death

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Large Loggerhead Sea Turtles Released off the Coast of Charleston

South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program

Two loggerhead sea turtles that were admitted in the summer of 2013 in critical condition, were successfully returned to the Atlantic Ocean this afternoon. The turtles, Lazarus and Dozer, were released by boat approximately 40 miles off the coast of Charleston. The trip offshore was generously donated by John Hill, a resident of Wadmalaw Island. The release of Lazarus and Dozer celebrates 157 threatened or endangered sea turtles successfully treated by the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program.

For photos and video click here.

About turtle rehabilitation and release:
Lazarus: Lazarus, a juvenile loggerhead sea turtle, was admitted to the Aquarium Sea Turtle Hospital in June of last year after being found emaciated, lethargic, and near death in Garden City, S.C. Blood work indicated the turtle was suffering from severe anemia, hypoproteinemia and hypoglycemia. Team members immediately began treating the animal with supportive care including fluids, vitamins and antibiotics. During the admission process, Lazarus began to exhibit signs of death (extending head and front flippers in an exaggerated fashion and gasping for air), and s/he became unresponsive with the eyes sinking back into the skull. Aquarium Veterinarian Dr. Shane Boylan quickly administered IV epinephrine and began assisting with the animal’s breathing. The turtle regained consciousness over the next 15 minutes and was kept on a respirator overnight, the prognosis was very poor. After a second death scare and a few days of treatment, Lazarus became slightly responsive. Team members continued to work around the clock providing treatment for this animal and after several weeks of care s/he began showing signs of recovery. Close to a year later, Lazarus has been given a clean bill of health, a true testament to the excellent care s/he received and the resilience of these animals.

Dozer: Dozer, a sub-adult loggerhead sea turtle was found extremely debilitated and stranded in Myrtle Beach, S.C. in September of last year. The loggerhead was transported to the Aquarium Sea Turtle Hospital by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) where s/he was found to be in critical condition. Dozer’s condition stabilized after several days of supportive care including fluids, vitamins and antibiotics. After a few months of expert care and a healthy diet, Dozer became feisty, swimming and splashing around in his/her holding pool. After six months of care, Dozer was cleared for release and was returned to the ocean along with Lazarus.

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

To read about our patients or track their recovery progress, visit our Sea Turtle Rescue 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:

  • Two loggerhead sea turtles released today, April 10, by boat, off the Charleston Coast
  • Both threatened species were treated by the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program
  • Lazarus exhibited signs of death twice but fully recovered after intensive care over the course of a year
  • Dozer was extremely debilitated and made a full recovery
  • For photos and video of today’s release click here
  • For more information on how to help threatened and endangered animals visit scaquarium.org

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 25 to 40 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 157 sea turtles and is currently treating 13 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 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: 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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