Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Over a year ago, Briar the loggerhead sea turtle was found covered in barnacles, stranded on the coast of Myrtle Beach. Extremely underweight and anemic, it was soon discovered she had cataracts and surgery would have to be done to remove her damaged eye lenses. Her survival was questionable.
Now, Briar is wading through the ocean. She has returned home.
After making a full recovery at the South Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital, Briar was released back into the Atlantic Ocean off of the Isle of Palms shores on Wednesday. Residents of all ages came with signs, shouts and cameras to bid farewell and capture snapshots of the sea turtle as she crawled her way into high tide. For many attendees, this was their first time attending a public sea turtle release, let alone witnessing a live sea turtle.
“It was really unique ... I was doing it to bring the kids, and it was kind of long waiting for it, but it was worth it,” said Kayla Hall, a first-timer for the turtle release.
She was stunned by Briar’s size, comparing it to that of a dinosaur.
Kate Dittloff, the Public Relations Manager for the South Carolina Aquarium, described Briar’s support from the community as extremely heartwarming.
“For some reason, everyone has some sort of connection to sea turtles,” Dittloff said while smiling.
“It’s not every day that you get to see a sea turtle in person, especially if you’re just visiting the Charleston area. We really hope they walk away with a greater appreciation to protect our oceans.”
Loggerhead sea turtles have remained under close surveillance since being deemed threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1978.
With their nesting season underway, efforts to ensure their safety are being made as frequently as possible.
If you find a sick or injured sea turtle, contact the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Sea Turtle Hotline at 800-922-5431. Donations can be made to the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program at the website at www.scaquarium.org.
With admirable efforts on Briar’s behalf, the community can ensure, as one child stated, that the rehabilitated loggerhead has returned home and “won’t be coming back.”