What do you do with an old motel you ask? Turn it into a turtle hospital of course! That is exactly what the owners of The Hidden Harbor Motel on Marathon Key in Florida did after Hurricane Wilma severely damaged the motel in 2005. Up to that point, the motel had been a resting spot for both human and marine reptiles. Out of the damage arose The Turtle Hospital. Rescue, Rehab, Release.
Being my first visit to the Florida Keys, I wanted to visit all things ocean. As luck would have it, where we were staying was very close to The Turtle Hospital — bingo! Since it was a rainy day, Spaceman was willing to spend time indoors and I was already eyeing which turtle I would adopt (they have an adoption program where you “adopt” a turtle and they raise it, win-win to me!).
The tour of the hospital started with an overview of turtles in general. To my dismay I learned the turtle scene in Finding Nemo was not correct in portraying sea turtles traveling in packs. Sea turtles are actually loners, what?! Naturally this threw me until our guide said our next stop was surgery.
While we were there, one very large turtle was undergoing surgery and a film crew from France was capturing it. Spaceman is not one for observing surgery type stuff so he stayed back while I maneuvered myself into position to assist (if needed) in front of the window — or at least ooh and aww dramatically.
The tanks are temporary homes to rescued, sick and/or wounded sea turtles that are being nursed back to health so they may be released to the ocean. It is hard to think of releasing these sweet creatures back into the wild and being vulnerable again but the goal of the hospital is to:
- Rescue, or take in rescued, sea turtles
- Rehabilitate the sea turtles to good health
- Release these sea turtles back to the ocean
In doing all of this, The Turtle Hospital has succeeded in educating the public on how to be better stewards of our oceans. They have brought awareness to the plight of sea turtles and the very real mine field they must navigate daily because of human negligence and an arrogant entitlement attitude of treating the ocean as their dumping ground. Please stop it!