The South Carolina Aquarium will release six rehabilitated sea turtles back into the Atlantic Ocean at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at Isle of Palms County Park on the Isle of Palms.
The turtles spent the winter at the peninsular Charleston tourist attraction’s Sea Turtle Hospital recovering from various injuries, according to Aquarium spokeswoman Kate Dittloff.
The release includes Little River, a 73-pound loggerhead sea turtle found floating in the Little River near the North Carolina border last May.
The turtle had three boat propeller strikes to its shell and a partial front flipper amputation, possibly from a predator encounter. Treatment included wound care, antibiotics, vitamin injections and physical therapy.
The remaining five turtles, Eastham, Eclipse, Mason, Innis and Sampson, arrived at the Aquarium Jan. 15 from Massachusetts via a first-class flight on a private luxury jet. Found in late November and December of last year, they were the victims of cold-stunning off the Cape Code coast.
Cold-stunning occurs when sudden drops in air temperature cause coastal water temperatures to drop quickly. If sea turtles are exposed to rapid reductions in water temperature, they may become hypothermic and unable to swim.
The turtles were transferred to the S.C. Aquarium to free up resources at the New England Aquarium, where they were initially treated.
In Charleston, treatment for the four Kemp’s ridleys and the hybrid sea turtle included antibiotics and vitamin injections. Eclipse, a rare hybrid sea turtle that is a cross between a loggerhead and a green sea turtle, is the first hybrid turtle treated at the Aquarium.
It costs about $36 a day to treat each sea turtle in the Aquarium’s hospital, which comes to about $321,000 a year.
The turtle release is being held in partnership with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources and the Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission. The event is open to the public; all attendees should plan to carpool, arrive early and expect to pay for parking at the county park.
For more information or to make a donation, go to www.scaquarium.org.
Read more in Thursday’s editions of The Post and Courier.