How do we get our turtles?
I’m very excited as today marks the beginning of our new sea turtle hospital blog! This will be the place to receive regular updates on the daily happenings in the LMC hospital and rehabilitation department. I look forward to sharing the work that we do with everyone!
Our job in the hospital at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center is to rehabilitate and release injured or sick sea turtles. Often times we are asked, “How do you get your turtles?” I think this question is a great place to begin.
Turtles arrive at our hospital in many ways. The majority of our patients arrive due to stranding. A stranding occurs when a sea turtle swims or floats into shore and becomes “beached” or becomes stuck in shallow water. With the exception of adult nesting females, sea turtles spend their entire lives at sea. When a turtle is found stranded, it is a relatively clear indicator that it requires some level of medical attention. Sea turtles strand for a wide variety of reasons; including, but not limited to: boat hits, entanglement in fishing debris, cold water temperatures, and shark bites. Often times we receive our patients through Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC); however, there are times when we respond ourselves to the stranding calls. For each stranding that we respond to we must fill out a specific report documenting the stranded or injured turtle. When arriving on the scene of a stranding we assess the turtle for obvious injuries and take pictures for our hospital records. The turtle is then transported by our sea turtle ambulance immediately to our on-site hospital for an initial exam.
The picture below shows a stranding that we responded to last week at Coral Cove Park. An adult female Loggerhead, 350lb +, was returning to the water after nesting when she fell into the rocks and got stuck. Good thing we had summer interns and several awesome beach goers to help out!
Upon arriving at our Hospital we immediately assign each turtle with a number and give it a name. Once the turtle has a name and number we take pictures to document their condition. The turtle is then weighed and measured. All patients that arrive for care at our hospital receive a full veterinary exam. Their initial exam consists of blood work, x-rays, physical, neurological, and nutritional assessments. Based on the results of these tests and assessments an individual treatment plan is developed for each patient by our on staff veterinarian.
If you happen to come across an injured or stranded sea turtle,
please call FWC at: 1.888.404.FWCC (3922) – Cell:*FWC or #FWC
Photo: Gina Lombardo Schlueter
Photo: Victoria Ternullo