The Adorable Sea Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys

Try eating a plastic grocery bag for lunch and see what it does to your intestines. And for dessert, how about one of those plastic forks so common with carry-out meals. How are you feeling now?

A sea turtle being examined at the Sea Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys

Think about that the next time you or someone around you casually tosses something into the ocean. And then, plan a visit to The Turtle Hospital on Marathon Key, about halfway down the Florida Keys.

Here, you can look into the little faces of highly endangered Hawksbill or Kemp’s Ridley turtles who made the mistake of having your trash for lunch.

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The Sea Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys

It’s a real hospital with an ambulance, air evacuations, and licensed veterinarians working round the clock on about 50-75 patients a year. It’s the only such facility in the world dedicated entirely to sea turtles, including the endangered green and loggerhead turtles most common in the Florida Keys.

YThe ambulance for the Sea Turtle hospital in Marathon Floridaes, that’s all well and good, a nice thing to write about. But when you visit and actually look into the gentle little faces of these traumatized creatures, and recognize the pain and the fear they must be experiencing, you immediately want to pull on a pair of rubber gloves and do what you can to make a difference.

These little guys — some weighing as much as 500 pounds — have been hit by boat propellers, become tangled in fishing line or eaten some sort of plastic trash so casually tossed into the ocean by human beings.

And let’s don’t even talk about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Or the impact of sunscreen.


Florida Hospital Saves Injured Sea Turtles

An injured sea turtle receiving car at the Sea Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys.Some of the treatments for sea turtles are the same for humans — Metamucil and Beano. That helps move a blockage of plastic bags.

But think about the trauma to a human body in a major head-on car wreck. That’s similar to what this little guy felt when something, maybe a boat propeller, shattered his shell in multiple places.

In addition to wiring the shell back together, the veterinarians and staff treated him with lots of antibiotics and pain killers, as well as raw honey poured onto the open wounds several times a day. He recovers in a pool with about an inch of water and a sprinkler washing over him.  As he gets better, the water level will be increased until hopefully he can swim again.

The goal is to be able to release all patients back into the wild and that’s possible about half of the time. Otherwise, these precious creatures will live out the rest of their lives at The Turtle Hospital or some approved facility in the U.S.

The life span of most turtles is 80-100 years and with the help of the folks at the Sea Turtle Hospital, these guys will make it. If you would like to do more to improve the ocean around the Florida Keys, click here to read about the Coral Restoration Foundation, operating nearby.

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         A healthy sea turtle at the Sea Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys