Spectators cheer as three sea turtles return to ocean

  • Thursday, August 1, 2013

Mike Arendt with South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and Lexi Mechem, a college intern with the South Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital, walk Splinter down to the water. STAFF PHOTOS BY PENNY PARKER


Wednesday, July 31 was a big day for the South Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Rescue Program as three sea turtles were returned to the Atlantic Ocean. A crowd of spectators lined both sides of the turtles’ pathway to cheer them on as the three returned to their natural environment.

The three juvenile sea turtles represent three different species. The public bid farewell to a Kemp’s ridley, loggerhead and green sea turtle at the Isle of Palms County Park. The release was held in partnership with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) and the Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission (CCPRC).

Meet the turtles


Splinter, a 60-pound juvenile loggerhead sea turtle was caught on board the SCDNR research vessel, the Lady Lisa, in late May. The turtle was taken to the aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital with what appeared to be a large wooden splinter deeply embedded in the right rear flipper. The aquarium’s rescue staff determined the material lodged in the turtle’s flipper was actually a bill from a swordfish. Splinter’s treatment included surgery to remove the bill, antibiotics, fluids and wound care. After just two months of treatment, Splinter was medically cleared for release.


Sutton, an eight-pound Kemp’s ridley, the most endangered sea turtle species, was brought to the aquarium’s Sea Turtle Rescue Program in January of this year. Sutton was found cold-stunned off the coast of New England and was flown down to the sunny south on a flight donated by pilot Michael Taylor. Treatment included antibiotic and vitamin injections, fluid therapy, a healthy diet and of course TLC.


Raker, an eight-pound juvenile green sea turtle was discovered washed up on Myrtle Beach on a cold day in April of this year. Named after the beach rakers that saved his/her life, Raker was suffering from multiple issues including a shell infection, poor blood work, dehydration and a low heart rate. An extremely low body temperature of 55 degrees F compounded the problem, and the turtle was in intensive care for approximately four days. Treatment included slow warming of the body temperature, oxygen therapy, antibiotics, fluids and topical treatment for the shell infection. Raker returned to optimal health, swimming around his/her containment pool and was ready for a return to the ocean.

How to help

You can help care for sea turtles in recovery at the aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital by going to www.scaquarium.org and making a donation. While online, you can also visit the Sea Turtle Hospital’s blog at http://seaturtlehospital.blogspot.com/ to track the progress of patients currently being cared for at the hospital. You can also find out more about visiting the hospital as part of a behind-the-scenes tour now offered seven days a week.

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