Over the weekend, we went to the Everglades and then drove to Key West. When we first started planning the trip, I found out about this Sea Turtle Center in the Keys and I knew we had to go. My nine year old loves all things turtle and wants to help turtles when he grows up.
To see the turtles, you must go on the guided tour. It is a little costly ($22/adult, $11/kid), but it goes towards running the center (which is now a non-profit). The tour is about 90 minutes and we thought it was worth the cost. Their goal is to help the turtles get better and then release the them back into the wild. Turtles that can’t be released are re-homed to zoos or aquariums although they do have five permanent residents.
Turtles are found because they are floating. Floating turtle = sick turtle = easy prey.
Some of them have been bitten by sharks.
Sometimes when a boat hits a turtle it forms an air pocket under the shell. This is called bubble-butt because the turtle gets a bubble on the back of his shell and it causes him to float with his butt in the air. There is no way to fix this so the turtle becomes a permanent resident because he can’t dive for food. They put weights on the scutes to help him dive, but when the scutes are shed, the weights come off too.
Sometimes turtles develop FP tumors (Fibropapilloma) that can cover their eyes, flippers, and even form inside. Normally after they’re removed, they don’t come back, but the turtle becomes a resident for a year just to make sure.
When the turtles are released, they are tagged so the facility knows if a turtle is a return visitor. The tour guide was very informative and you get to see a lot of their facilities. They also have a small gift shop and some informative displays about turtles.