‘I thought it was dead’: Rare turtle found wounded in Pawleys Island clings to life

‘I thought it was dead’: Rare turtle found wounded in Pawleys Island clings to life
A turtle found critically injured in Pawleys Island remains in unknown condition. (Credit: Diana Eastman)

PAWLEYS ISLAND, SC (WMBF) - A rare turtle found critically injured along the shores of Pawleys Island Friday is still in unknown condition.

“I thought it was dead,” began Jeff McClary, co-founder of the South Carolina United Turtle Enthusiasts (S.C.U.T.E.), “I started the data forms for a dead turtle and then all of a sudden it started responding.”

S.C.U.T.E says a pair of beachgoers found the injured Kemp’s Ridley Turtle in rough shape Friday around 5:00 p.m. in Pawleys Island. The duo contacted police who alerted S.C.U.T.E. to help transport the sub-adult turtle to the Sea Turtle Care Center in Charleston for life-saving care.

“I was really impressed by the resiliency and perseverance of this guy to stay alive,” said S.C.U.T.E volunteer Diana Eastman who waited with the turtle until help arrived.

“I was beginning to give up hope but he hung in there and was moving his flippers so that gave us some hope," Eastman finished.

A turtle found critically injured in Pawleys Island remains in unknown condition. (Credit: Diana Eastman)
A turtle found critically injured in Pawleys Island remains in unknown condition. (Credit: Diana Eastman)

The group says the turtle’s carapace, or hard upper shell, appeared to have been worn down to the bone. The underside was in bad shape as well according to first responders, being heavily bruised.

“Its possible it was stuck in a dredge," McClary said, adding the turtle looked ‘emaciated’.

McLeary says its extremely rare to see a Kemp’s Ridley in the Palmetto State, estimating only two or three have ever nested in South Carolina.

“It’s extremely rare,” added Mary Schneider of S.C.U.T.E., “They wouldn’t be on a beach if they weren’t hurt or laying eggs.”

As of 1:45 p.m. ET Saturday the turtle is still receiving care at the center in Charleston.

S.C.U.T.E says the pair who found the turtle along the Palweys Island shores did ‘exactly what you’re supposed to do’ upon locating the injured turtle.

WMBF News will continue to update this story as the status of the turtle changes.

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