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May 21, 2009

Volunteers raise funds for sea turtle X-ray machine

Fundraising efforts by the DeBordieu, Hobcaw and Prince George Sea Turtle Patrol volunteers have raised funds to be used towards the purchase of an X-RAY machine to aid with the care and rehabilitation of sick and injured sea turtles that strand in South Carolina. 

The DeBordieu, Hobcaw and Prince George Sea Turtle Patrols are part of the South Carolina United Sea Turtle Enthusiasts (SCUTE), which helps the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) manage sea turtle nests and strandings in Georgetown and Horry counties. Loggerhead, Kemp’s ridley, green and leatherback sea turtles strand on SC’s beaches during the entire year.  Strandings occur more often from April to October. The public can follow sea turtle strandings in South Carolina through the DNR online stranding resource.

The DNR Sea Turtle Program and the South Carolina Aquarium (SCA) partnered in 2000 to rehabilitate sick and injured sea turtles that strand along the state’s coast.  Sea turtles most often strand on the beach after they have died but a small percentage of them strand alive. When these sea turtles strand alive, DNR biologists take them to the SCA to receive treatment and care.  Once they are admitted, it is often difficult to determine what is wrong with the sea turtle from an external examination.  An X-RAY machine is critical for examining injury or disease on the inside of the animal. 

For example, Kemp’s ridleys, an endangered species, are the second most common sea turtle to strand in South Carolina.  They often bite on hook and line resulting in an ingested fishing hook. A radiograph machine allows medical staff to take an internal picture of the sea turtle, which may reveal the ingested hook that would otherwise go undetected. They can then surgically remove this hook that may have resulted in the death of this animal.

The DeBordieu, Hobcaw and Prince George Sea Turtle Patrol volunteers held a Save Our Sea Turtles benefit in early May to raise money to purchase an X-RAY machine for the SCA.  They held a silent and live auction as well as a raffle. To date, they are very close to meeting their goal of $12,000 with May 31st as their deadline. Donations have been received from the entire Grand Strand area and as far away as Pennsylvania and Florida.  The public is encouraged to help them meet this goal. If you would like to donate, please send your donation to Betsy Brabson at 320 Bonnyneck Drive, Georgetown, SC 29440. Checks should be made out to SCA Sea Turtle Rescue Program. Donations to the SCA Sea Turtle Rescue Program are tax deductible.

Sea turtles are listed as either endangered or threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act and the state Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act. "Sea turtle conservation in South Carolina would not be possible without the extensive collaboration and efforts of volunteers, nongovernmental organizations and federal, state and local governments," said DuBose Griffin, South Carolina’s Sea Turtle Coordinator.

DNR protects and manages South Carolina’s natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state’s natural resources and its people.

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