You may have noticed we had fewer public releases in 2019 than in prior years. Because public sea turtle releases are much anticipated and celebrated in Charleston, we wanted to be sure to shed some light on why.
How Do We Determine Public or Quiet?
There are many moving parts that go into planning a sea turtle release. Sea Turtle Care Center staff work with South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) officials to determine whether the release should be quiet (like a boat release or a private beach release) or public based on the patient’s individual needs and best chance for success. Additionally, we consider physical condition, weather, tides, water temperature, nearby human activities that may be dangerous (such as dredging) and where the animal would naturally inhabit at that stage in its life.
What Made 2019 Different?
This summer, we rehabilitated a good number of juvenile green sea turtle patients. We normally release green sea turtles in local saltmarshes via boat because that’s where they are commonly found this time of year. We also saw many larger turtles with flipper injuries. Not only can flipper injuries make it stressful for the turtle to crawl to the water, but it is unsafe for both the animal and staff to carry larger sea turtles to the water (and often impossible for the super hefty ones!) so many of these turtles require transport to the water in bins. This means extremely limited visibility, which is not ideal for a public release. While we know the organization of a public release can be complex on our end, we also know, with traffic and crowds, attending a public release can be an undertaking for you, too! For that reason, we want to be sure that we choose the best sea turtle candidates to make it a worthwhile and wonderful experience for all.
As the 2019 local release season comes to a close, we want to thank you for helping us put animal care first and supporting us in a safe and celebratory local release season. We — and the sea turtles — thank you!