Visit to the Turtle Hospital

Saturday was our last day in Key West and we were planning on going to check out the beach. However the weather had other ideas as it poured just as we were about to leave. We decided to start the long drive home and find something fun to do on the way. Before lunch we came across the turtle hospital and decided that would be perfect!

It was a 2 hour educational tour about turtles and rescuing them. First they have a talk about the different types of turtles and the threats posed to each kind. They also talked about how the turtles can get cancer from the polluted algae and that is why a lot of turtles are at the hospital in addition to getting hit by boats or injured by foreign objects in the water.
Then it was time for the tour! We saw the hospital area where they perform surgeries on turtles and what not. It is crazy the kind of medical procedures they can perform. they frequently remove tumors from turtles and also remove hooks or trash stuck in their stomachs.
Then we saw the young turtles in pools. Many of these young ones had had a tumor or were found in distress. One of them had even been rescued from being eat by a shark! A brave man saved him and now he was recovering here.
We got to see these turtles very close up and were warned not to put our fingers in the water as it could be mistaken for food!
All the turtles have names and they offer whoever made the rescue call or rescued it the opportunity to name them. One guy has saved 5 and named them all after Gilligan’s Island characters. The turtle in the picture above was named squirt!
There were 2 baby turtles recovering. They usually have more during hatching season. The main reasons for babies being brought in is there was an unnatural light on the beach when they hatched so they crawled towards that, as opposed to the moon over the water like you are supposed too.
This hospital actually used to be a motel, but the owner got very involved with turtle rescue and converted. The on-site marine biologists stay in the motel rooms though. They used the pool to keep many of the turtles in. The ones in here were bigger and many will be here for the rest of their lives or some other zoo or form of captivity. This was caused by being hit by a boat that deforms their shell a certain way and prevents them from swimming underwater. They can not survive in the wild like this so must stay in captivity.
The tour was really fascinating and we learned a lot. It was interesting to learn about the turtles that live on our beaches. Andrew and I understand the importance of not littering or wasting too much resources, and we were glad this place was educating others so we can all have a cleaner ocean. This was a great rainy day activity to do in the Keys and afterwards we finished our drive home.


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