Rehabilitated sea turtles return to the wild in South Carolina

- Two sea turtles treated by the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program are again swimming in the Atlantic Ocean.

Lady, a large female loggerhead, and Forest, a juvenile green sea turtle, were released at the Isle of Palms County Park on Thursday. 

The release was held in partnership with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) and the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission (CCPRC).

Authorities said The Sea Turtle Hospital is currently at capacity with new patients being admitted almost daily this week, requiring these two turtles to be released immediately once medically cleared.

Thursday's release marks 191 sea turtles successfully treated and released by the South Carolina Aquarium Sea Turtle Rescue Program.

More about Lady and Forest: 

Lady, an adult female loggerhead sea turtle weighing just 95 pounds, was found last summer debilitated and floating near Lady’s Island, South Carolina. Boaters enjoying a day on the water found Lady covered in barnacles and behaving abnormally. Luckily, they called SCDNR, who responded and transported the turtle to the Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital. Upon admission, Lady was severely emaciated and lethargic; she was also diagnosed with bilateral cataracts. Initial treatment included a physical exam, fluids, antibiotics and vitamins, while surgery to remove the cataracts in both eyes was postponed until Lady was stronger. Dr. Anne Cook from Animal Eye Care of the Lowcountry donated the surgery, which is the sixth she has performed on a loggerhead sea turtle. Lady successfully recovered from surgery and now sees well enough to actively chase live blue crabs around her tank. She is back to full weight at more than 140 pounds.

Forest, a juvenile green sea turtle, was found by a group of girls biking at Forest Beach on Hilton Head Island in April of this year. The girls noticed that Forest was not moving and that there were small spots of blood near the turtle, indicating s/he was wounded. Treatment at admission included fluids, vitamins, antibiotics and blood analysis. The initial physical exam indicated that Forest was in relatively good body condition but was suffering from numerous abrasions and lacerations to the front and rear flippers, consistent with a shark attack. Subsequent exams including radiographs revealed Forest was also suffering from an intestinal impaction. Weeks of treatment, including fluids and an enema, helped clear the impaction. After several months of hands-on care, Forest was ready for release.

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