Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Visiting the Turtle Hospital in Marathon Key, Florida

           Last week's post transported readers to a winter wildlife excursion in cold, snowy Yellowstone National Park.  This week, we switch gears and travel to warm, sunny Florida.

          Tim and I visited the Florida Keys in February of 2011 and one highlight of the trip was our tour of the Turtle Hospital in Marathon Key.


          The tour begins with a presentation.  Our guide, a young woman who had worked at the hospital for five years, introduced us to the sea turtles common to Florida and informed us of the dangers facing them.  When not imperiled, sea turtles may live to 80-100 years—if not longer.  As recently as 200 years ago most sea turtles who survived to adulthood lived out their lives with nary a threat.  Today though, sea turtles face a host of problems, most of them human-caused.  Among the threats facing sea turtles: injuries from boats and fishing lines; ingestion of garbage and plastics; loss of habitat due to development along coastlines; hatchlings losing their way to sea due to bright lights on the shoreline.  With all these risks to their survival, is it any surprise that all of the world's seven species of sea turtle are considered endangered?


          The turtle hospital cares for sick and injured turtles with the goal of rehabilitation and re-entry into their ocean home.
          Five species of sea turtle—the Green, Loggerhead, Leatherback, Hawksbill and Kemp's Ridley—are common to Florida.   All face possible extinction and all five species are patients at the hospital.

          The tour continued with visits to the operating rooms, and to the rehabilitation ponds and tanks.  We visited with many of the hospital's patients, some of them permanent residents—too sick or injured ever to be returned to the wild.
          While dismayed by the plight of these exquisite creatures, I applaud the staff at the Turtle Hospital for their valiant efforts to save the endangered sea turtle.

Leatherback Sea Turtle in the rehabilitation tank.

A Loggerhead cruises the tank....

... and raises his head for a look around.

Green Sea Turtle.

"Little Joe", a Loggerhead, lost an arm to a boat's propeller.  Due to
this injury he swims only in circles.  The staff at the hospital is working
on his rehabilitation.



Visit The Turtle Hospital in Marathon Key at this website: http://www.turtlehospital.org/blog/?page_id=2
Learn more about Florida sea turtles by clicking here.

8 comments:

  1. Very interesting! It's wonderful and heartwarming to know that there are folks who are willing to dedicate their time and talent to undertakings such as this.

    Rita, I love the variety of locations and topics that you present in your Blog. It's in perfect keeping with the old adage that states "Variety is the spice of life!"

    John

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  2. Thanks, John. The Turtle Hospital was indeed an inspiring place.
    And yes, variety is the spice of life! I've been to all 50 states and can vouch for interesting attributes in every one of them.
    Rita

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  3. Turtles is a brand of shirts over here and the company pays a small sum for the rehabilitation of turtles. Liked your pictures!

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    1. I'm happy to hear that the plight of sea turtles is receiving world-wide recognition. Can Turtles brand shirts be bought in the US?
      Rita

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    2. I have no idea about that, but the company's website URL is pasted below, and I believe they have an online store too. You can ask them about their conservation efforts. Olive Ridley turtles I think, are the most endangered species in the eastern coasts of India

      http://www.turtlelimited.com/pages/About-Us/pgid-76096.aspx

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    3. Thanks Manikchand, I'll check it out.
      Rita

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  4. I never knew turtles looked so different, with beautiful shell shapes and patterns, until reading this post. Thanks for sharing your photos of the little guys in rehab. I hope they make it back to the ocean. This was an inspiring read!

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    1. Turtle shells are pieces of art, aren't they? I'm with you, Vickie—I hope as many turtles as possible make it back to the sea to live long and happy lives.
      Rita

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