•   
  •   
  •   

Offbeat 'Ride-out team' cares for aquarium animals during Florence

15:53  14 september  2018
15:53  14 september  2018 Source:   cnn.com

Florence downgraded to Category 3 hurricane

  Florence downgraded to Category 3 hurricane Hurricane Florence was downgraded to a Category 3 storm on Wednesday night but may strengthen by the weekend, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. The storm is in the middle of the Atlantic, about 1,085 miles east-northeast of the Northern Leeward Islands and about 1,235 miles east-southeast of Bermuda, with maximum sustained winds at 125 mph. Florence was a Category 4 earlier Wednesday before weakening a bit by night time. It is moving northwest at 10 mph.

Inside the closed South Carolina Aquarium Thursday, volunteers were hard at work taking steps to ensure the animals that call the aquarium home will be safe from Hurricane Florence.

As people evacuate before hurricane, zoo animals move inside

  As people evacuate before hurricane, zoo animals move inside As 1.7 million people are being urged to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Florence, the staff at the world's largest natural habitat zoo were trying to figure out what to do with 1,600 animals. Staffers at the North Carolina Zoo near Asheboro were scrambling Wednesday to move elephants, giraffes, chimpanzees and hundreds of other species inside to protect them from the storm's predicted strong winds and torrential rain.Load Error

"We are here until the storm ends, and the reason we're here is to take care of all the animals in the aquarium," said Willow Melamet, sea turtle care manager at the aquarium. She is one of 12 volunteer staff members on the team that will ride out the storm at the aquarium.

The animals there include fish, sharks, eel, otters, alligators and crabs, to name a few. Of particular concern are the 15 patients in the sea turtle hospital. They include loggerhead, green and Kemp's Ridley sea turtles, which are all endangered species, along with the other four species of sea turtles. The endangered animals are there because they've been rescued. The hospital staff will nurse them back to health and then release them.

Since the aquarium and the hospital opened in 2000, 260 turtles have been released after being cared for here.

Strangers help woman who was planning to ride out Florence with 7 rescue dogs

  Strangers help woman who was planning to ride out Florence with 7 rescue dogs A South Carolina woman who was planning to ride out Hurricane Florence because she couldn't evacuate with her seven rescue dogs has found a way out. After CNN reported on Christine Meinhold's dilemma Wednesday, strangers reached out on Facebook -- and thanks to a crowdfunding campaign, they rented her a truck so she could reach her family in Tennessee. The organizer of the campaign, Palms Springs-based radio host Kate Zenna, said she started raising funds because she "wasn't able to let all those dogs perish.""I went to rescue dogs alone after Katrina and what I saw will never be forgotten.

Gallery by photo services

When turtles arrive at the aquarium, they are kept in the intensive care unit in the basement of the building, which is on the Charleston Harbor, Courtenay Lewandowski, senior director of strategy and advancement, explained. They are injured or sometimes stranded from being hit by a boat or getting stuck in a fishing line, for example, when they are found.

She said that once they are stable they are moved for rehabilitation to a living exhibit where the 76,000 visitors who come to the aquarium each year can see how they are cared for and learn how they are nursed back to health.

This week, the rehab center is home to the intensive care unit sea turtles, too. They've been moved up to the first floor to stay out of harm's way, with the potential for flooding from the storm. Flood water can knock out power and life support for the turtles, Malamet said, noting it could be devastating to the hospital since the holding tanks use electricity for water filters and oxygen.

It's so critical that the back-up systems have back-ups, she said. In addition to generators to back up the main generator, there are systems to keep tanks cool and systems for oxygen and air.

Malamet helped move the sickest patients in the turtle hospital, including Dobby, who was stranded in Myrtle Beach State Park after being hooked by a fishing line in July.

The ride-out team worked to isolate the ICU from the rest of the aquarium by sealing off doors, putting sandbags in place and filling holding tanks with water in case they need it.

It's a need they are familiar with. During Hurricane Matthew in 2016, the area flooded and lost power for a few hours. The same thing happened again during Hurricane Irma last year. By refining their preparation plans each year, the staff said they keep getting better at it. "We're storm ready," Melamet said.

The remaining team is also responsible for routine care of the animals throughout the aquarium, including physicals, vaccinations and medications.

Once the effects of the storm hit the area, they will be checking the building for damage from wind or flooding, too.

"The ability to have high winds, storm surge and all that could be detrimental to our sea turtle hospital," Melamet said.

It's the first time Melamet will be riding out a storm at the aquarium, she said, and she's excited.

After the storm passes and authorities determine it's safe to travel around Charleston, the ride-out team will be relieved by a recovery team, which will assess the building, clean up if needed, then work to move the sickest sea turtles back to the ICU -- all steps toward getting the building ready to open to the public again.

In the meantime though, they wait. "We've been keeping an eye on the storm. It's been taking a little longer than anticipated to get to us," Melamet said.

Woman Arrested After Taking in Pets During Hurricane Florence .
She was charged with practicing veterinary medicine without a license while the pets were in her care. Tammie Hedges, who runs Crazys Claws N Paws, a Goldsboro, N.C., animal rescue group, took in 27 cats and dogs belonging to residents who were fleeing the storm.“The goal was to make sure that they were not out there drowning,” Hedges told WNCN, a local television station.According to a Facebook post from the Wayne County Government, Wayne County Animal Services visited the site on Sept. 17 at the request of the North Carolina State Department of Agriculture.

—   Share news in the SOC. Networks

Topical videos:

This is interesting!