Stranded sea turtle rescued by local turtle team on Tuesday
By Janie Lackman/ESPB | At about 9:15am on Tuesday, a call came into the Fripp Island Activity Center that there was a stranded sea turtle on the sandbar in Skulls Inlet between Pritchards and Fripp Islands. Most of the strandings that we get in our area are dead sea turtles, but not this time.
Mallory Dailey and I are on the Sea Turtle Stranding Network for Fripp Island. The Sea Turtle Stranding Network has individuals across the coastal SC area that are specially trained to deal with both live and dead sea turtle strandings. In any case it is important to gather information from the sea turtle to report back to SC DNR. Typically, they’ll see boat or propeller strike strandings. In this case, the wounds would be measured and photographed, and the turtle would be buried somewhere off the beach.
On Tuesday morning, it was indeed a different kind of stranding because the report was that it was a live sea turtle.
Pritichards Island is accessible only by boat and it was just after low tide when the call came in so we decided to canoe over to the island to investigate. Special thanks to Tim Price for helping us to maneuver the canoe down to the water by Wardle’s Landing to launch.
Once we made it to the sandbar, we saw four women standing around in a tide pool. Near the ground there was a white lump. One of the women that called in the stranding is actually on a sea turtle stranding network in Virginia so luckily she knew what to do. They had kept the turtle covered with a wet t-shirt to protect it from the heat.
The turtle was a sub adult loggerhead weighing between 100-125 pounds. It was covered in barnacles including several large ones near its mouth. The women offered to let us use their large inflatable boat to get the turtle back over to the main Fripp Beach for transport. It would not have been possible to get the turtle into the canoe for transport across Skulls Inlet. We covered the turtle’s head to minimize stress so it could not see what was happening and carefully lifted it into the boat. Mallory and I then paddled back across Skull’s Inlet with the turtle.
Tim Price met us with his truck where we prepared an area with cardboard in the back. Tim lifted the turtle into the truck and we were off to the Beach Hut to get some damp towels to cover her with for transport.
Once these were placed, Tim was so generous to let us borrow his truck for transport to Garden’s Corners where we met with Charlotte Hope from SC DNR to hand off the turtle for the rest of the trip to Charleston.
The turtle survived the transport and is now in the very capable hands of our friends at the Sea Turtle Hospital. Early reports are that there is evidence of an older boat strike which may have attributed to the issues. At this point we do not know what the other possible injuries are or the sex of the turtle.
The Sea Turtle Hospital has a wonderful website that lists information on all the patients they have. Visit http://www.scaquarium.org/STR/hospital/default.aspx or their blog at http://seaturtlehospital.blogspot.com/ for more information on all the sea turtle patients at the hospital.
If you are planning a visit to Charleston, I’d highly recommend a visit to the SC Aquarium and a tour of the Sea Turtle Hospital. You might just get to see our very own Skull’s Inlet Sea Turtle.
Take a look at some photos of the rescue below. (photos by Janie Lackman & Mallory Dailey)