One turtle suffered three boat propeller strikes to its shell and five others were stunned by a sudden cold snap.
On Sunday, after months of rehabilitation at the S.C. Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital, the six fully recovered sea turtles will be released back into the Atlantic Ocean at 10:30 a.m. at Isle of Palms County Park, 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 Cod 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 initially were 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.
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. Attendees should plan to carpool, arrive early and expect to pay for parking.
For more information or to make a donation, go to www.scaquarium.org.
Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.