MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Eight Green Sea Turtles found their temporary home at Ripley's Aquarium of Myrtle Beach, on Wednesday. The turtles were found washed up on beaches North Carolina in the Pamlico Sound area.
"These turtles are around the size of large dinner plates and all were 'Cold Stunned', meaning they have hypothermia due to the sudden cold weather. Their heart rate and circulation is much slower than normal. They need a temporary home warm enough to ensure their survival while waiting for coastal water to heat up again," said Tim Handsel, Director of Husbandry at Ripley's Aquarium.
The SC DNR Marine Turtle Program and Husbandry Team at Ripley's Aquarium will work closely together to rehabilitate the new arrivals.
"Our Ripley's Husbandry Team will be evaluating them for pneumonia and other infections while also working to get them eating consistently and retuning to good health," said Handsel.
Although over 500 turtles have already been rescued over the past few weeks, nearly 1,300 sea turtles have been reported in NC as stranded, both dead and alive. Rescued turtles are transported and released in the St. Augustine, Florida area.
Senior Aquarist at Ripley's Aquarium, Sean Boyd, who has been with Ripley's for 19 years, specializing in all types of marine life, has taken on the job of direct responsibility for the care of the turtles during the length of their stay.
"Our turtles will be housed in a 9,000-gallon tank at the Ripley's Aquarium Marine Science Building until they are ready to be released in Florida or possibly in the Myrtle Beach area, depending on weather conditions and animal recovery time," said Boyd.
Craig Atkins, General Manager of Ripley's Aquarium, says it takes a team to make things happen. "We have many Ripley's Team Members, including myself, that volunteer their time to help sea turtles and we even have our own section of beach, through the North Myrtle Beach Sea Patrol, where we check for turtle nests," said Atkins.
Guests of the Aquarium are encouraged to Round up for Conservation on each purchase made. All proceeds go to Sea Turtle Conservation.
In the event you find a sea turtle washed up on a South Carolina beach, you are asked to call the SC DNR Hotline at 1-800-922-5431.