clatteringly rencontres femmes agees pully Thursday’s release of the 200th sea turtle rehabilitated by the South Carolina Aquarium underscores how its mission has gradually expanded from interpreting the state’s aquatic environments to saving a key part of them.
Saint Charles pedido de namoro no amigo secreto When the aquarium opened in 2000, there was no expectation that it would play an active role in caring for sea turtles, one of the coast’s iconic, endangered creatures. At the time the aquarium made headlines after a 330-pound green sea turtle named “Calhoun” got stuck and died in one of its exhibit tanks.
Kettering site de namoro depois dos 40 But also in those early years, state officials approached the aquarium for help in nursing a wounded turtle back to health. The aquarium staff bought a blue plastic kiddie pool, shared their expertise, recruited volunteers and the rest is history.
resto le chat blanc les lilas The aquarium since has helped a few hundred turtles, drawing a national reputation as part of a network that cares for sick and injured turtles. And it has been providing a behind-the-scenes tour of its turtle rescue operation for an extra charge.
Next May, a new $5 million sea turtle hospital at the aquarium will give the public a new view of the animals getting medical care and rehabilitation before their return to the wild.
“We’re excited about the increased capacity that it will bring to handle sick and injured turtles,” said Phil Maier, spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources.
“In addition, though, I think it’s going to be more exciting for visitors because you are going to get more of a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on,” he said.
Currently, small groups of about 15 visitors are allowed to visit a turtle hospital in the aquarium basement. But that will be changing with the advent of the Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery exhibit.
“In the past we were an aquarium that had a sea turtle hospital. Now you can almost say that we will be a sea turtle hospital surrounded by an aquarium,” said Kevin Mills, the aquarium chief executive officer.
Nearly all of the $5 million needed for the new turtle hospital has been raised, he said.
“We are virtually at the finish line. With a couple of more gifts we will be across it,” Mills said.
To date, about $4.9 million has been donated for the cause, including $2.5 million from the Zucker family. Some $270,00 was appropriated in the state Legislature-passed budget, he said.
“This new exhibit will really speak to the power of the community to come together and care for an endangered species,” Mills said.
That includes the volunteer turtle teams that monitor and protect nests on area beaches. The DNR is the aquarium’s primary partner in turtle rescues, he said.
To date, the turtle hospital has had 41 admissions this year. The new facility will double the aquarium’s capacity to treat turtles, Mills said.
The aquarium already has built a reputation among the national network that cares for sea turtles. The New England Aquarium often has to find new homes for endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles stunned by the cold.
“The South Carolina Aquarium often takes a large number of turtles,” New England Aquarium spokesman Tony LaCasse said. “They’ve been very reliable for us. It’s like mutual aid for rural fire departments. When somebody has an exceptional event, people will chip in to do what they can.”
On Thursday afternoon, the aquarium staff released Moon, a 93-pound loggerhead, into the waters off the Isle of Palms. Moon became the 200th turtle to be treated and released by the staff. A 149-pound loggerhead named Marsh also was released back to the sea.
When its new turtle hospital opens, visitors will get a better look at what’s involved in caring for creatures like Moon and Marsh. The aquarium will have seven new turtle tanks on display in addition to the 13 pools in the basement. Visitors will see a large exercise tank where turtles swim against a current to develop their muscle tone in preparation for release.
Mills said aquarium management realized that seeing sea turtles in recovery is a powerful experience and a great teaching tool. Providing the public greater access to what goes on at the turtle hospital will make the aquarium more effective as a conservation and education organization, he said.
In addition to caring for turtles, the aquarium in partnership with the College of Charleston will conduct research and pursue innovative new therapies, he said.
“We plan to take advantage of the opportunity to study these animals to contribute to a larger body of science,” Mills said.
The aquarium staff includes a veterinarian, a veterinary technician, three sea turtle biologists and a cadre of volunteers.
Kelly Thorvalson, sea turtle rescue program manager, said the effort has evolved over 16 years from one turtle in a kiddie pool to the planned state-of-the art facility.
“It’s been quite an adventure,” she said.
Currently, about 15,000 visitors annually see the sea turtle hospital in arranged tours. That number will rise to 450,000 visitors who go to the aquarium each year.
“It will be almost like they are looking through a storefront window into the hospital. It’s just exciting that everyone will be able to see these animals,” she said.
Ticket sales, donations and gift shop purchases help support the program, she said.
The turtle care center will replace a section of the aquarium that has been devoted to changing exhibits. Visitors will go from the Great Ocean Tank to a corridor that will take them to the more than 4,000-square-foot turtle hospital.
“They’ve got a very energetic group over there. We bring them turtles at all hours of the day,” Maier said. “They really do a tremendous job.”
Reach Prentiss Findlay at (843) 937-5711.