With every one of the seven species of sea turtle at risk of extinction, every individual turtle matters. That's why the South Carolina Sea Turtle Care Center pours so much time and energy into rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing these beautiful and unique marine animals.
Whether it's a swallowed fish hook, a broken shell from a shark bite, or even a collapsed lung from ships dredging the seafloor where the turtles feed, the staff is ready to jump into action and do whatever is needed to ensure the survival of their reptilian patients.
Sea turtles face a myriad of challenges for survival. If it weren't tough enough to evade sharks and find food, sea turtles now also have to dodge fishing lines, avoid plastic marine debris and pollution, cope with the loss of nesting habitat critical to future generations, and so much more. The troubles are overwhelming, but thankfully they have a little help.
More than 200 sea turtles have been given a second chance at life thanks to the Sea Turtle Care Center, and the behind-the-scenes work is revealed in the six-part series "Sea Turtle Rescue" on Smithsonian Earth.
Smithsonian Earth streams wildlife shows to any device connected to high-speed Internet, which means you can tune in to new shows about nature on your phone, laptop or tablet device. That includes six tear-jerking-yet-inspiring episodes delving into what it takes to save a sea turtle. If you've ever wondered how a vet performs surgery on a sea turtle, you can witness it in Episode 1 as a Kemp's Ridley sea turtle — the smallest and most endangered of sea turtle species — is put on the operating table for a serious lung injury. Or if you've ever wanted to witness a sea turtle's release back into the wild, tune in to Episode 4 and be sure to have a box of tissues at the ready.
Can the vision of a loggerhead turtle be restored with a radical eye procedure? Can a turtle with major injuries from a ship be spared with a surgery that's never been performed before? Each of the rescues the Sea Turtle Care Center performs is nothing short of a small miracle for conservation.
The series premieres on May 23, and later in the week on May 27, the center's new Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery is set to open. According to the center "will bring sea turtle recovery to life with state-of-the-art technology and interactive exhibits that address water quality, marine debris, plastics consumption and environmental stewardship. The aquarium will boldly tell this critical conservation story, focusing on the inspirational process of sea turtle care and rehabilitation."
If watching the episodes inspires you to learn more, you'll have a state-of-the-art recovery facility to visit!