Sav­ing Tur­tles at SC Aquar­ium

The Sea Tur­tle Res­cue Pro­gram

Where Charleston - - Contents -

In­jured and mal­nour­ished sea tur­tles find hope and even­tu­ally a re­turn to the ocean, thanks to the aquar­ium’s ex­pand­ing res­cue pro­gram.

Maybe you’re a kid with a love for ocean life, or maybe you’re a full­grown adult with that same child­like pas­sion. Ei­ther way, the South Carolina Aquar­ium’s quickly grow­ing Sea Tur­tle Res­cue Pro­gram is some­thing you’re go­ing to want to check out. An eye­open­ing ex­pe­ri­ence with a per­sonal, be­hind-the-scenes vibe, the pro­gram’s Sea Tur­tle Hos­pi­tal tour, of­fered daily at noon and 2 pm, shows you another side to the Charleston-based aquar­ium, let­ting you get face-to-face with sea tur­tles at vary­ing stages of re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

Be­gin­ning at the grass roots, the pro­gram was born of ne­ces­sity as a few of the an­i­mals were brought in­jured or mal­nour­ished to the fa­cil­ity. It has since grown into a cru­cial part of the aquar­ium, re­ceiv­ing a record­break­ing 11 tur­tles this May. Com­pare that to the pre­vi­ous record of six (last June), and it’s easy to see why the aquar­ium has plans to ex­pand in 2016 with a new, state- of-the-art hos­pi­tal.

The Sea Tur­tle Hos­pi­tal houses pa­tients with a wide range of is­sues, from McA­doo, who lost a fin to a shark bite, to Buck, who came to the hos­pi­tal so de­bil­i­tated he could do lit­tle more than float. Some of the ail­ments— McA­doo’s, for ex­am­ple— are nat­u­ral for ocean life, and the Res­cue Pro­gram’s ef­forts pro­vide a ter­rific sec­ond chance for the af­fected tur­tles. But some of the health risks these tur­tles face, aquar­ium vol­un­teers pointed out, il­lus­trate a deeper prob­lem. Aquar­ium vol­un­teer Elaine War­ren of­fered a great ex­am­ple: “Sea tur­tles love to eat jel­ly­fish,” she said. “But what do you think that a plas­tic gro­cery bag float­ing in the ocean will look like to a sea tur­tle?”

The grav­ity of the is­sues that the Res­cue Pro­gram is ad­dress­ing might make the Sea Tur­tle Hos­pi­tal seem a bit in­tim­i­dat­ing, but noth­ing could be fur­ther from the truth. The res­cue team is do­ing amaz­ing work with McA­doo, Buck and many oth­ers ev­ery day to get them back to the open ocean and to help their species grow and thrive again. A sea tur­tle might stay at the hos­pi­tal for a year or so be­fore it is fully re­ha­bil­i­tated, but the aquar­ium staff is com­mit­ted to giv­ing each one the care that it needs.

More: www.scaquar­ium.com/STRP.

Aquar­ium work­ers pre­pare a tur­tle for trans­port to the hos­pi­tal

Tur­tles face both nat­u­ral and man-made woes

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