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** Archived Article - please check for current information. **

June 7, 2011

Scute Didn’t Scoot!
Rehabilitated Loggerhead recaptured near Charleston a year after release

One year and one month after being released back into the Atlantic Ocean following a successful rehabilitation at the South Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital, Scute, a loggerhead sea turtle, was recently recaptured during a regional turtle trawl survey managed by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The Lady Lisa and her crew caught Scute off the coast of Kiawah Island, S.C.  Between release and recapture, Scute’s weight increased from 102 to127 pounds and the length increased almost 3 cm (1.25 inches), which is a normal rate of growth for a juvenile loggerhead of this size.

Scute is an acronym for the South Carolina United Turtle Enthusiasts, the sea turtle nest protection organization in Georgetown and Horry counties. The turtle was named after the group because the DNR sea turtle stranding network members responded to the stranded loggerhead on August 24, 2009 in Myrtle Beach, S.C.  Scute was initially found with a rope entangled around its neck and a shell covered completely with tube worms and barnacles. The turtle was also anemic, severely emaciated and moderately hypoproteinemic (low levels of protein in its blood). Treatment included fluids, iron, vitamin B and antibiotics. Soon, Scute became an aggressive eater, perfected catching and consuming live blue crabs, a preferred prey item for loggerheads in the wild.  After approximately eight months of care, Scute was released on May 1, 2010.

Scute is only the third sea turtle to be recaptured following successful rehabilitation and release by the Aquarium. All three were recaptured in the regional in-water trawl survey. DNR will continue to do its part to ensure accurate data is collected and available for making informed management decisions that affect the fate of loggerheads and the South Carolina Aquarium is making sure that every individual is given a fighting chance at survival.

Lighting and habitat disturbance are detrimental to sea turtle nesting and hatchling emergence. Because of this, we recommend the following steps to minimize any negative impact on sea turtles on the beach:

If you spot an injured sea turtle on the water (or on the beach or in the marsh), call 1-800-922-5431 to report it. For all media inquiries, please contact Kate Dittloff at (843) 579-8660 or kdittloff@scaquarium.org or Brett Witt at (803) 667-0696, WittB@dnr.sc.gov

About the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program: 

In partnership with DNR, the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program works to rescue, rehabilitate and release sea turtles that strand along the South eastern coast. Located at the Aquarium, the Sea Turtle Hospital admits 10 to 20 sea turtles each year. Many of these animals are in critical condition and some are too sick to save. To date the South Carolina Aquarium has successfully rehabilitated and released 62 sea turtles and is currently treating 18 patients. The average cost for a patient’s treatment is $43 a day with the average length of stay reaching nine months.

About the DNR Marine Turtle Conservation Program:

The DNR Marine Turtle Conservation Program is responsible for managing and protecting sea turtles in the state of South Carolina. This program has several all-encompassing components: management, monitoring, research, and education. More specifically, this program implements management techniques to mitigate activities that may impact sea turtles and provides training and support to more than 1,100 volunteers across the coast who protect nests and document sea turtles that wash ashore (strandings). DNR staff members also perform necropsies on fresh dead strandings and respond to live strandings in need of care.

Over the last 10 years, the average number of sea turtle standings on South Carolina Beaches each year is 133. Of these, roughly 10 percent are alive and successfully transported to the Sea Turtle Hospital.

About the South Carolina Aquarium:

The South Carolina Aquarium, Charleston’s most visited attraction, features thousands of amazing aquatic animals from river otters and sharks to loggerhead turtles in more than 60 exhibits representing the rich biodiversity of South Carolina from the mountains to the sea. Dedicated to promoting education and conservation, the Aquarium also presents fabulous views of Charleston harbor and interactive exhibits and programs for visitors of all ages.

The South Carolina Aquarium, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization and is open Daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Aquarium is closed Thanksgiving Day, half day Dec. 24 (open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) and Dec. 25. Admission prices are: Toddler’s (1 and under) free; Youth (2-11) $12.95; Adults (12-61) $19.95; Seniors (62+) $18.95.  The Aquarium plus the 4-D Theater experience is free for Toddler’s, $17.95 for Children, $24.95 for Adults, and $23.95 for Seniors. The 4-D Theater experience only is $6.95 for Children, Adults and Seniors and $2.95 for Members and Member Guests. Military, senior, college and group discounts are available. For more information call 843-720-1990. Memberships are available by calling 843-577-FISH.

About the DNR Regional Sea Turtle Health and Abundance Survey:

For the past decade, DNR has managed a federally-funded survey designed to evaluate trends in catch rates and health of wild sea turtles in coastal waters between Florida and South Carolina. The regional survey is conducted by DNR and the UGA Marine Extension Service and involves dragging modified shrimp nets at about 500+ randomly determined stations each summer. Since 2000, in-water sea turtle research managed by the SCDNR has collected, tagged and released more than 1,700 loggerheads between central Florida and South Carolina of which only 17 were previously tagged by another program and only another 47 (38 live, 9 stranded) have been re-sighted again in subsequent surveys. Low recapture rates in the various in-water surveys managed by the DNR are consistent with stable to increasing catch rates for loggerheads relative to several decades ago.


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