FOLLY BEACH, S.C. (WCBD)- After spending about a year in treatment at the South Carolina Aquarium, two loggerhead sea turtles were released back into the Atlantic Ocean on Tuesday.
A small group of volunteers and onlookers gathered on Folly Beach around 8:00 a.m. to release Bea and Pluto, according to aquarium officials.
Bea, a 125-pound adult female loggerhead, was found floating in the intracoastal waterway off of Skull Creek Marina on Hilton Head Island. When they arrived at the Care Center on June 16, 2022, Bea was “very weak, missing the majority of the right front flipper, and covered in pluff mud, tunicates, bristle worms, crabs, and thousands of marine leeches.”
Officials said Bea suffered from debilitated turtle syndrome which causes anemia in addition to dehydration, and “dangerously” low glucose, calcium, and protein levels.
“Bea is looking great and giving us that “I’m ready to go” attitude!” a May 15 update stated. “When she’s not eating or napping, she’s splashing reminders at us that she’s active and angsty. Her plastron looks to have flattened out, indicating that she may finally be at a healthy weight.”
Pluto, a 64-pound sub-adult loggerhead, was found washed up on the beach on Pritchards Island in Beaufort County and brought to the Sea Turtle Care Center on May 21, 2022. It was determined that Pluto suffered from a mild case of debilitated turtle syndrome and some secondary injuries, likely from a predator attack, according to the aquarium.
Officials said Pluto’s shell was soft upon arrival and an examination revealed several predator injuries, including a severe fracture and rake marks on the shell and a puncture wound to the neck. Pluto was also reportedly missing their right front flipper and received calcium injections.
In its May 15 update, the aquarium noted that Pluto had “a healthy appetite and continue to make waves… literally.”
The Sea Turtle Care Center at the SC Aquarium has successfully rehabilitated and released 381 sick or injured turtles since its inception. To learn more about the center, click here.
If you find a sick, injured, or dead sea turtle on the beach, contact the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources hotline at 1(800) 922-5431.