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Sea Turtle Hospital

Did you know that housed within the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston, SC is the Sea Turtle Hospital?  Yes! 

There are several large amphibious patients relying on the Sea Turtle Rescue Program that seeks to rehabilitate injured turtles on threatened and endangered species lists to provide them the medical science and aid needed to get them healthy enough to be released into the wild again.

My son went on a trip to the Aquarium with a tour of the Sea Turtle Hospital booked with Grandpa the other weekend.   There was a Hilton Head Island turtle checked into the hospital in Charleston that he bonded with. Her name is Amelia and she’s a Kemp Ridley Turtle – an endangered species of sea turtle.  She’s considered a youngun’, and was found due to being “cold-stunned,” which means basically just that she was cold and listless on the marsh side of Hilton Head when discovered by a local family.  Since she was suffering from hypothermia, she was incubated and given oxygen, slow warming of her body, and was given antibiotics, fluids, vitamins and supportive care. She’s quite petite compared to other types of sea turtles they see – she weighs in at seven pounds. I hear she is a cutie!  She was a real hit with the youngsters on the tour of the Sea Turtle Hospital. She was recently released and the turtle hospital took in another Hilton Head sea turtle–Mitchel, who is currently receiving much-needed TLC.

Each turtle has their own display board listing his or her name; the date they were submitted to the hospital as patients; their diagnosis; and an explanation of their treatment.  Children and adults are welcome to photograph and interact up close with the turtles.  Educational wall displays raise awareness about them and their habitat (on land) when nesting.   One of my son’s favorite displays is a black and white photo of the largest sea turtle ever discovered which was in Wales in 1988. It was a male leatherback that washed up weighing 2,016 pounds and it was 9 ½ feet long. 

Another hospital patient at the time of their visit was Huntington.  Huntington, a loggerhead, weighed 161 pounds and had an impaction to her lower GI tract (which causes floating).  She was treated with antibiotics, mineral oil to help the impaction pass and was given vitamins and a healthy diet for weight gain.  She was released back into the wild about two weeks ago successfully.  The staff looked overjoyed to see one of their own that they nursed back to health rejoin the wild which is their ultimate goal.  I am sure they will miss Huntington though!

The turtle hospital continues to take in new patients as this is nesting season.  The Loggerhead Sea Turtle nesting season began in May which means the time for stranding on the beach is now a real risk.  Please be diligent to do your part if vacationing on Hilton Head Island during the summer months.  Refer to our other blog to educate yourself more on the amazing creature that the Loggerhead Sea Turtle is and how we can each do our job to protect them.

If you are visiting the area, and want to plan a day excursion to check out the Sea Turtle Hospital at the South Carolina Aquarium, the tour prices are in addition to the price of Aquarium visit.  It is advised to buy tickets in advance for the Sea Turtle Hospital tour as it’s a popular tour.  You can book both online at  http://www.scaquarium.org/

Great news! Spinnaker Resorts and the South Carolina Aquarium have partnered to give Hilton Head Spinnaker Resorts vacationers a special discount off their ticket prices.  Be sure to check with your Activities staff at your Spinnaker Resorts location on Hilton Head during your vacation to get the promo code so you can enjoy this wonderful day excursion.

What I would say to close this out is­–GO!  It is well worth it and so educational!  Your children will love it, your other half will love it, and anyone and everyone will love it.  You will come away with a greater appreciation of what Sea Turtle Preservationists do, as well as why our sea turtles are such loveable creatures that we need to do our part to protect and preserve.

South Carolina Aquarium hours of operation:

March – August

Open Daily 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
(Building closes at 6 p.m.)

September – February

Open Daily 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
(Building closes at 5 p.m.)

100 Aquarium Wharf
Charleston, SC 29401

(843) 720-1990

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