Two green sea turtles and a rare Kemp’s ridley will be returned to the sea Friday on the beach at Isle of Palms County Park.
The release at 10 a.m. is open to the public. Parking fees will be charged at the park, 1 14th Ave., as well as nearby spots and lots. The turtles had been rescued in the wild, then treated at the South Carolina Aquarium, one for swallowing a fish hook, one because it had eaten plastics and the other found debilitated and near death.
The releases bring the total number of threatened or endangered sea turtles successfully treated at the Aquarium to 198 in 16 years of operation. In that time, the dune-nesting turtles — primarily the loggerhead — have become beloved ambassadors of the coast. When an injured turtle is released after treatment at the aquarium, hundreds of people crowd the beach to watch.
The facility has been operating at capacity and injured or sick turtles keep arriving as the nesting season begins to wind down. A $5 million expansion of the facility is underway on the aquarium’s main floor and will have visitor observation windows and access. Donations to the sea turtle rescue program currently are being matched up to $100,000.
For more information about the turtles or the program, go to scaquarium.org. If you find a sick or injured sea turtle, contact the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Sea Turtle Hotline at 1-800-922-5431
Reach Bo Petersen at 843-937-5744, @bopete on twitter or Bo Petersen Reporting on Facebook.