Saving One Turtle at a Time
During a recent visit to South Carolina's Sea Turtle Hospital in Charleston, SCDNR had the privilege of not just going behind the scenes where all of the action takes place, but also filming and interviewing the staff. Many of the tasks such as feeding, monitoring proper tank temperatures, and documenting the progress of each patient are routine. But what is not routine is the care each patient receives because, to the staff, this isn't just a job- it's a passion.
No injury is too small. From dehydration and emaciation to life-threatening injuries such as shark bites, stingray wounds, swallowed fishing hooks, and ingested marine litter, all patients are treated with the same amount of care and attention.
At the time of SCDNR's visit on July 6, 2016, Marsh, a juvenile turtle, had been at the facility for just under two months. He was brought to the facility on May 13 after a shark encounter, and it was later discovered he also had gastrointestinal issues due to the consumption of both hard and flexible plastics, including a grocery bag. During an oral exam on June 15, it was revealed that a longline hook complete with braided steel wire was stuck in Marsh's throat and was hooked around his trachea. We are following Marsh's recovery and will keep you posted with updates.
The goal of the Sea Turtle Hospital is to rescue, rehabilitate, and release the patient into its natural habitat as quickly as possible. Sea turtles play a big part in the marine ecosystem, and a negative impact to the ecosystem is a negative effect to us all.
The emphasis here is that land litter will find its way to the ocean to become marine litter, and it's an obstruction to both the marine ecosystem and its inhabitants. Oil spills. Millions of gallons of toxic waste. A few trillion cigarette butts. Discarded plastics. Fishing nets and lines. Abandoned crab pots. Toxic metals. And anything else you can think of. All tossed into the ocean… No worries, right? No consequences, right? Marine life isn't threatened, right? 84% of turtles, 44% of marine birds, and 43% of marine animals have plastic their stomachs.
To sea turtles, plastic bags and balloons look like jellyfish. And straws and toothbrushes look like sea worms. Other marine animals see bottle caps as eggs or another food source. Anything floating in the water is potential food to these creatures.
Only you can change where your trash ends up - it's UP2U to enact this change:
- Avoid single-use plastics
- Respond to the need to recycle more
- Reevaluate how you dispose of your personal trash
For more information about SCDNR's turtle program, visit http://www.dnr.sc.gov/seaturtle/.
For more information about South Carolina's Sea Turtle Hospital, visit http://www.scaquarium.org/sea-turtle-care-center.
If you see an injured sea turtle, call 800-922-5431.