Sea Turtle Care Center Connects Children with Conservation EffortsJul 30, 2021 ● By Anna Marie Imbordino
Photo Credit Emily Cummings
Ocean conservation efforts have taken a global spotlight as scientists, conservationists and legislators around the world look for solutions that protect our oceans and wildlife. Although opinions vary on how to best approach these global issues, organizations like the Aquarium Conservation Partnership bring awareness and education by connecting families with conservation projects across the U.S. As trusted, science-based institutions, aquariums inspire visitors to care about oceans and wildlife and more importantly, to take action for conservation.
Queen, a loggerhead sea turtle, was found suffering from debilitated turtle syndrome by beachgoers on Kiawah Island, South Carolina, in June 2020. Queen was lethargic, covered in barnacles and emaciated when found by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources which then transported the turtle to the South Carolina Aquarium, in Charleston, for life-saving treatment. Now Queen is starting to thrive in her recovery tank and working toward healthy vitals to secure her release back to the wild. This is just one of the many sea turtles rescued and released yearly by the Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Care Center™.
Families can walk through the recovery hospital experiencing the day-to-day medical care of the rescued turtles and learning about patient case stories. “We hope the Sea Turtle Care Center helps connect families with water and with wildlife, so they can fall in love with the natural world around them. And we want to help them learn the impact of their choices on wildlife and the ocean,” shares Amie Yam-Babinchak, director of marketing, sales and strategic communications. The aquarium shows visiting families the impact of their choices on wildlife by helping them see and experience animals affected by climate changes or human interaction firsthand.
Families everywhere can experience the Sea Turtle Care Center from their own homes by logging onto the South Carolina Aquarium Facebook page Wednesdays at 10 a.m. EST for a live Turtle Talk hosted by aquarium biologists and spotlighting sea turtle patients. “You do not need to live near the beach or travel to the ocean to protect sea turtles and ocean habitats,” explains Sarah Hartmann, lead education interpreter. “No matter where you are, your actions impact animals all over the world, and you can make a difference.”
South Carolina Aquarium is not alone in hoping to connect families to conservation efforts. It is just one of the Aquarium Conservation Partnership’s 25 public aquariums in 19 states, all committed to advancing conservation of the world’s oceans, lakes and rivers. Fellow member and Aquarium Conservation Partnership co-founder Shedd Aquarium celebrates these efforts to connect families with conservation education. Senior Director of Government Affairs and Conservation Policy with Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium Andrea Densham wants families to understand the relationship between Midwestern waterways like the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes and our oceans. “The Great Lakes are connected to the Atlantic Ocean through the St. Lawrence Seaway. The Mississippi River empties into the Gulf of Mexico. It is important to understand that we are all part of one amazing, blue planet.”
Similarly to South Carolina Aquarium, Shedd Aquarium offers families opportunities to connect with local and global efforts through their Surge program, a newly launched global community of environmental advocates and “change agents” that have pledged to jump into action and support advocacy efforts that ultimately safeguard aquatic species and nature. The digital platform will equip Surge advocates with the knowledge and tools necessary to take individual actions in their daily lives and tackle issues including plastic pollution, climate change, environmental justice, equal access to nature and more.
Representatives from both aquariums urge
families to stay involved in conservation issues in their community, and look
at actionable steps they can take to improve efforts locally and globally. “We
can all make a difference,” explains Densham. “By taking simple steps like reducing
the use of plastics and preventing pollution from entering our waterways, we
could make a huge impact on these issues.”
To explore more about the Sea Turtle Care Center and conservation programming with the South Carolina Aquarium, visit scaquarium.org. Become a Surge advocate and learn more about local conservation
efforts with the Shedd Aquarium by visiting SheddAquarium.org/surge.
Anna Marie Imbordino
is an award-winning writer, publicist and environmentalist based in Chicago and
Charleston, SC. Connect on social media by following @teawiththebee.