Blog Post By: Jillian Sower, Summer Sea Turtle Intern
On Sunday the 29th, we had the opportunity to visit the Sea Turtle Care Center located in the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston. One of our volunteers, Sherry, is also a volunteer for the sea turtle hospital and was able to give us a tour. I took quite a few pictures of the patients, but am unfortunately unable to post them at the request of the hospital.
The hospital has quite a few patients. They have loggerheads and green sea turtles, as well as a Kemp’s Ridley or two. It was an amazing experience to see these turtles in the daylight; I’ve really only seen sea turtles at night during our night walks when the visibility is low and when the turtles are usually covered in sand. These turtles, though typically recovering from injuries, each seemed to have their own unique personalities. My two favorites that I saw were Professor McGonagall and Hedwig, both loggerheads (most of the patients were named after characters from the Harry Potter series). Although they were recovering, they were both active and friendly. They came to the side of the tanks where we stood and seemed very curious about us. Hedwig swam around the tank, in constant motion, while we were there, while McGonagall seemed content to remain along the one side of his tank.
Although it was very exciting for me to see these turtles, and educational, as I’d never seen a green sea turtle in person before, it’s sobering to remember that these turtles’ injuries were mostly caused by people, such as boat motor strikes and fishing net entanglement. You can read a little more about each turtle and their issues at scaquarium.org/sea-turtle-care-center/. You can also use this website to donate to the Care Center and/or become a Sea Turtle Guardian.
Once we finished viewing the sea turtle patients, we went and explored the aquarium. The facility is home to many species of animals, such as sharks, many fish, sea horses, starfish, sting rays, and other non-oceanic animals, like turtles, snakes, and an albino alligator. It was fun to see all of these species and to read about them. The albino alligator was really cool to see; though I have to say I was disappointed with the otters – they seemed more content to nap in their logs than to come out and swim around. The aquarium also has an awesome gift shop 😊.
If you ever find yourself in Charleston, definitely take the time to go to the aquarium. It’s very educational and fun too, especially seeing unique species like the recovering sea turtles located in the aquarium’s recovery area. Also to make sure to clean up after yourselves when you’re on the beach, to recycle, and to use less single-use plastics to prevent sea turtles from consuming plastic pollution in the ocean!
Sea Turtle Biologist