FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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Contact: Ashley Dolnack
Ten Rehabilitated Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles Released Into the Atlantic Ocean
Turtles Successfully Treated at the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Care Center™
CHARLESTON, S.C. — April 6, 2022 — During the early hours of the morning on Tuesday, April 5, 2022, the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Care Center team transported ten rehabilitated Kemp's ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys kempii) to Little Talbot Island State Park near Jacksonville, Florida. The warm Florida waters served as the ideal release point for these turtles, as the waters off the Carolina coast are too chilly this time of year.
Of these ten patients, five were treated for cold-stunning conditions: Ana, Kristoff, Sven, Hans and Bruni. Alongside the cold-stunned patients were an additional five sea turtles all treated for hook-and-line complications: Sodalite, Gravel, Aventurine, Amethyst and Turquoise.
It was a day of looming storms throughout the region, and despite the high tide and choppy waters, the skies remained clear for the release of these incredible animals back into their natural habitat. A small group of beachgoers, drawn to the large red Care Center van, gathered to watch the sea turtle biologists during this momentous occasion.
This first release of the season also marks the largest number of patients that the Sea Turtle Care Center has released at one time. As of this announcement, the Sea Turtle Care Center has released 348 patients since its opening.
About the Sea Turtles: Cold Stun Admissions
In November of 2021, an influx of sea turtles were stranded along the beaches in Cape Cod, Massachusetts due to cold stunning. They were transported to the New England Aquarium, where they received fluids, vitamins and antibiotics. After a few days at the New England Aquarium, Turtles Fly Too pilot, Ed Filangeri, and co-pilot, Glenn Knoblach, picked up over 40 sea turtles and flew them to rehabilitation facilities throughout the southeast, including the South Carolina Aquarium.
Ana: Overall, Ana was in good shape upon admit. The most severe of their symptoms was that their body temperature was in the lower 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The ideal body temperature for a sea turtle should be in the range of 75 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
Kristoff: In addition to a body temperature in the lower 60 degrees Fahrenheit, they had a few frost-bitten areas on their beak and flippers caused by exposure to cold air temperatures on the beach.
Sven: Despite a low body temperature, they thankfully had a normal heart rate upon admit. After the initial diagnosis, Sven was left to rest comfortably in a foam-padded bin to slowly increase their body temperature. Then they were able to move to a tank, where they slowly but surely regained their strength.
Hans: Overall, Hans was in good shape upon admit. After resting in a foam-padded bin to help increase their body temperature, they were also moved to a tank.
Bruni: After a similar story of recovering from low body temperatures, Bruni was observed exhibiting an interesting floating behavior. It was determined that their floating was likely a form of comfort, a common behavior in young sea turtles. An animal-safe cube was placed into their tank to encourage exploration and comfort in deeper water levels.
About the Sea Turtles: Hook and Line Admissions
Sodalite: Sodalite was hooked by a fisher in the surf on Huntington Beach State Park. After a few attempts, the Care Center team was able to manipulate the hook enough to remove it without surgery. Following the hook removal, the team was surprised to find several pieces of marine debris and plastics that were passed after admit, evidence that Sodalite had ingested these items in the wild.
Gravel: Gravel was hooked by a fisher at the Myrtle Beach State Park fishing pier. The small circle hook was stuck in their beak, and the angle of the hook made it difficult to remove onsite. The size of the hook added to the difficulty, but resident veterinarian Dr. Lauren Michaels was able to complete the removal quickly and with no sedation.
Aventurine: Aventurine was hooked by a fisher in the evening at Seabrook Island. The hook was deep in their throat, and was so large it was unsure that removal through the mouth would be the best option. Thankfully, it was removed successfully and they were monitored the for the standard 24 hours, alternating between being on a ventilator and staff manually breathing for them.
Amethyst: Amethyst was caught on hook-and-line in Shem Creek. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources transporter called to tell the Sea Turtle Care Center that there was visible fishing line, which makes hook removal much easier as it allows the vet team to trace the line to the hook. That same night, Dr. Michaels was able to remove the hook without surgery.
Turquoise: Turquoise was hooked late at night by a fisher on the Marine Corps Air Station Base in Beaufort, South Carolina. They were a very small turtle on admit, and though they were in good body condition, the hook or the fishing line could not be seen which meant the turtle probably swallowed the hook. Sure enough, there was a very large wide-gap hook almost in the stomach.
How You Can Help
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 currently in recovery at the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Care Center by visiting scaquarium.org and making a donation.
To read about patients, both current and released, and to track their recovery, visit the Aquarium blog, Currents, at scaquarium.org. Follow the Aquarium on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for the latest updates from the Sea Turtle Care Center.
For all media inquiries, contact Ashley Dolnack at (843) 579-8660 or firstname.lastname@example.org
About the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Care Center ™:
In partnership with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Care Center works to rescue, rehabilitate and release sea turtles that strand along the South Carolina coast. Located in the Aquarium, the Sea Turtle Care Center admits 20 to 40 sea turtle patients each year.
To date, the Sea Turtle Care Center has successfully rehabilitated and released 348 sea turtles and is currently treating 10 patients. The average cost for each patient’s treatment is $35 per day with the average length of stay reaching nine months. To learn more about the Sea Turtle Care Center, visit https://scaquarium.org/sea-turtle-care-center/.
About the South Carolina Aquarium:
The South Carolina Aquarium, Charleston’s No. 1 family attraction, features thousands of aquatic animals from river otters and sharks to loggerhead sea turtles and fish 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 sweeping views of the Charleston harbor along with interactive exhibits and programs for visitors of all ages.
The South Carolina Aquarium is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Normal business hours are 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 closed Dec. 25. Tickets are currently dated and timed and must be purchased in advance. Daily admission prices start at: Youth (3–12) $22.95; Adults (13+) $29.95. Toddlers (2 and under) receive free admission. For more information, call (843) 577-FISH (3474), or visit scaquarium.org.