CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Two rehabilitated sea turtles who were first treated at a new recovery center in Charleston were released on the Isle of Palms Wednesday morning.
Official with the South Carolina Aquarium say a Kemp ridley and a loggerhead were released at the IOP County Park.
Hundreds of people turned out for the event to see Chum and Marlin return home.
Both of the turtles were the first patients moved to the new Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery and were the first turtles in the center to be returned home.
"When Chum arrived to the Sea Turtle Care Center, the hospital was almost full, construction was complete on Sea Turtle Recovery and opening day was approaching," SC Aquarium officials said.
"We were basically at full capacity when Chum was admitted," says Willow Melamet, Sea Turtle Care Center manager. "He was in one of our temporary tanks in the basement hospital. We moved him to up to Recovery to ensure he had plenty of room and the best filtration possible."
Marlin also moved into the center immediately after Chum.
"A juvenile loggerhead, Marlin was a bit smaller than the Sea Turtle Care Center's typical loggerhead patient, weighing in at about 50-pounds," SC Aquarium officials said.
"Marlin was in a large 1000-gallon tank downstairs," Willow explains. "We moved him to a tank in Recovery that was perfect for his smaller size. This also allowed us to make room for larger patients. Sea Turtle Recovery was truly ready just in time."
On April 29, 2017, this little Kemp's ridley was caught on hook-and-line by a fisherman in Beaufort. The fisherman contacted South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), and SCDNR transported Chum to the Sea Turtle Care Center. Care Center staff successfully removed the hook and now, after just two months of rehabilitative care, Chum is completely healed.
Marlin was caught on hook-and-line off of Apache Pier in Myrtle Beach on April 13, 2017. The fisherman brought the 50-pound loggerhead onto the beach and contacted SCDNR. Due to the location of the hook, surgery was required to remove it. Today, he's fully recovered and ready to return to the wild.