The South Carolina Aquarium Asks for Help as It Finds Ways to Persevere
The South Carolina Aquarium, located in the heart of downtown Charleston, overlooks the harbor where at any time, wild dolphins can be seen chasing fish and playing in the wakes of passing boats — a welcome and calming distraction from the reality of 2020.
Inside the Aquarium’s walls, the focus is on continuing the mission: inspiring conservation of the natural world by exhibiting and caring for animals, by excelling in education and research and by providing an exceptional visitor experience. Unfortunately, a 68-day closure caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has led to severe financial hardship for the Aquarium. This financial shortfall has made fulfilling that mission more difficult. As a nonprofit organization, the South Carolina Aquarium relies on the generosity of the public to help carry on its mission and core programming.
In response, the Aquarium launched Our World Without, a rescue campaign to save the heart and soul of the Aquarium: Education programming and the Sea Turtle Care Center™.
Program, adult learning and more, the focus has been on science-based learnings delivered in an engaging way that connects all people with water, wildlife and wild places. The Aquarium has worked to inspire the scientists, biologists and conservationists of tomorrow. Its Distance Learning program reached 15,000 students in 48 states and 33 countries across the globe last year, connecting them to South Carolina’s natural wonders.
As teachers and new home-schooling parents try to navigate a different learning structure, the Aquarium continues to find creative ways to connect with students. Parents and teachers can purchase 2 different interactive and educational virtual programs: Critter calls and Virtual field trips. Both are aimed at providing students with an experience they would normally have at the Aquarium from the comfort of a virtual classroom.
The Sea Turtle Care Center is the Aquarium’s cornerstone conservation program working to rescue, rehabilitate and release threatened or endangered sea turtle species. Since its inception, the Care Center has released 314 sea turtles, starting with “Stinky” just shortly after the Aquarium opened in 2000. The Aquarium rose to action to fill a void identified by scientists and conservationists alike. Sea turtles are ambassadors for conservation, calling attention to crucial issues impacting all of us (i.e. plastic pollution and climate change), ultimately bridging the gap between impassive behavior and actionable change.
The valiant efforts to rehabilitate sea turtles back to health are rewarding, yet expensive. A turtle’s care can range from 2 months to 2 years, and may include multiple surgeries and other costly treatments. One excellent way to support this work and receive exclusive updates, among other benefits, is to purchase a Sea Turtle Guardian membership.
Purchase tickets to visit and learn of other ways to support at scaquarium.org.
- by Isabelle Adler
- by Erin Byers Murray
- by Jennifer Stewart Kornegay
- by Emily Havener
- by Hannah Lee Leidy