Hilton Head crews rescue stranded sea turtle

07/30/2013 12:47 AM

07/30/2013 12:49 AM

Hilton Head Island firefighters responded to a different sort of emergency Monday morning: a sea turtle stranded in the dunes.

Amber Kuehn, cq sea turtle project manager for the Coastal Discovery Museum, said she and staff member Leigh West discovered the turtle at about 7 a.m. near the Marriott’s Grande Ocean on South Forest Beach Drive during their regular beach walk.

The loggerhead was healthy, she said, but was turned around.

“She had just nested,” Kuehn said. “Instead of getting back to the water, she headed up into the dune for whatever reason.”

Kuehn and West couldn’t lift the turtle — adult loggerheads typically weigh about 400 pounds — and lifeguards wouldn’t be on the beach for another hour or so, she said. So they called the fire department.

“We couldn’t leave (her) in the dune because she’s cold-blooded,” Kuehn said. “The sun would make her overheat.”

Four firefighters put the turtle in a sling and walked it to the water’s edge. Hilton Head Island Fire and Rescue Division spokeswoman Joheida Fister said it took about 20 minutes to get the turtle back where it belonged.

This isn’t the first time firefighters have helped rescue a turtle, Fister said.

Last year, they rescued a turtle from a Port Royal Plantation swimming pool.

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