Update September 18, 2012: The Kemp's Ridley sea turtle caught off the Myrtle Beach State Park pier was set to be released back into the Atlantic today.
You can check out recent pictures of "Hook" and two of her rehabilitated friends who will be returned to the sea off Kiawah Island in the South Carolina Aquarium's Turtle Hospital blog.
Update July 17, 2012: The hook was able to be removed through non-surgical means and the patient is doing well.
You can read more about "Hook" and her condition on the sea turtle hospital page. There is a cool picture of the x-ray there, as well.
I had the chance to talk to Ranger Ann Malys Wilson and we talked about the procedure to follow if you accidentally hook a sea turtle. She was quick to acknowledge that it happens and they often don't learn about it because folks think they'll be in trouble. The situation is quite the contrary. Because sea turtles are endangered, the focus is on rescuing, evaluating, and possibly treating the animal, if necessary.
If you should hook one, here are simple steps to increase the odds of saving the turtle:
1. Use a net to support the turtle as it is hoisted out of the water.
2. Use caution. Sea turtles can have powerful jaws and inflict injury on you.
3. If the hook is in the turtle's mouth or throat, leave at least three feet of line so the veterinarians have something to work with when removing it.
4. Call S.C.U.T.E. at (843) 340-2934 or SCDNR at 1-800-922-5431.
5. Keep the turtle in the shade with a wet towel while you wait for help to arrive and evaluate.
*If the hook is in the turtle superficially, remove it and gently release it back into the water.*
First report: The most endangered of sea turtles, the Kemp's Ridley, was accidentally hooked off the Myrtle Beach State Park pier this morning. Luckily, Interpretive Ranger, Ann Malys Wilson, was on hand to help.
The turtle was transported to the sea turtle hospital at the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston for evaluation and likely treatment as she swallowed the hook. To keep up with the emerging details of the story and see more photos, check out the South Carolina United Enthusiasts (S.C.U.T.E.) Facebook page.
To learn more about the Kemp's Ridley sea turtle, here is a basic Wikipedia link that discusses its characteristics and plight. To get more involved in the effort to preserve and support sea turtles along the Grand Strand, head on over to S.C.U.T.E.'s website. Another good read is the site for the sea turtle hospital as it includes information about their current and past patients. They even have a blog.