Featured Image Credit: South Carolina Aquarium
It was seventeen years ago when a 94-pound loggerhead named Stinky drifted to the shores of South Carolina. He was weak, dehydrated and near death. But luckily, he received adequate care in a very unusual place – the basement of the South Carolina Aquarium. Realizing how unprepared they were for an incident like this, the aquarium decided they needed to invest in a center for sea turtle care.
The early years of the hospital were far from perfect. Those years were filled with overcrowding, improvisation and mistakes. But above all of those set backs, the hospital was run with love. Gradually, large tanks replaced the kiddie pools, the number of volunteers doubled, and the aquarium was able to focus primarily on 3 things: rescue, rehabilitation and release.
Approximately 221 sea turtles have been saved over the years by the South Carolina Aquarium, in addition to Stinky, the turtle who started it all. That number includes loggerheads, greens, Kemps Ridley, and the massive leatherbacks. The aquarium currently has 17 “patients” in their care. And now, they are set to officially open the Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery this Memorial Day Weekend, equipped with everything necessary to properly care for these gentle beloved creatures.
The brand new recovery center will feature…get ready for this…an in-house research facility, updated tanks which can house turtles up to 300 pounds, an “endless pool” which generates a current that allows the turtles to receive exercise and therapy and a new medical center featuring a CT scanner and a modern operating room. In addition, a 40-seat classroom and theatre will allow the aquarium to provide programs and videos to the public that track the turtles entire journey, from rescue to release.
Sea turtles are considered somewhat of a beloved ambassador of the South Carolina coast. A record 6,444 nests were laid in the coastal dunes in 2016. Take a stroll along a South Carolina beach and you will be notice numerous signs enforcing the laws that protect sea turtles.
Now, more than ever, the South Carolina Aquarium can help so many other sea turtles just like Stinky. We came up with a new motto for aquarium – “Started from the basement now we’re here!”
To learn more about the sea turtle recovery, click here.