Saving Turtles at SC Aquarium
The Sea Turtle Rescue Program
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.
Aquarium workers prepare a turtle for transport to the hospital
Turtles face both natural and man-made woes