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The Florida Keys

Visit of the Turtle Hospital in Marathon

I wanted to visit The Turtle hospital since the first time I heard about it a couple of years ago. I never had the chance to go. I have to say I am a sucker for turtles—I just love them. They are just so stinking cute!

I always knew that you could find a lot of sea turtles in Florida, but I had never encountered one.

First of all, maybe you are like us and you don’t know anything about sea turtles. Know that there are seven species of sea turtles worldwide, and you can find five of them in the Florida Keys.

  • The Loggerhead can weigh more than 300 pounds. This species is threatened and is the most common turtle species in Florida.
  • The Green turtle can weigh up to 500 pounds, eats mainly grasses, and is endangered. This is mainly because some countries like Cuba still eats its meat, and its eggs are a delicacy because they are thought to be an aphrodisiac.
  • The Hawksbill can weigh up to 150 pounds and is also endangered. Its beautiful shell is used to create jewelry, glasses, and other objects…
  • The Leatherback turtle mainly eats jellyfish and can weigh up to 2000 pounds. It is the largest reptile alive. It eats 80% of its weight in jellyfish every day and is also endangered.
  • The Kemps Ridley turtle can weigh up to 100 pounds and was named after a Key West fisherman. It is endangered as well. They have unique nesting behaviors; the turtle will nest on the same beach its mom nested on.

We as humans sometimes tend to forget that we are not the only species on our beautiful planet, and that everything we do is affecting animals everywhere.

Human activities have increased the risk of threats to sea turtles’ survival like marine debris, plastic in the water, oil spills, boat strikes…

Poor Chuck Norris, he got hurt by a boat and a shark tried to eat him!

The hospital is working 24 hours 7 days a week. It works on a straightforward basis: members of the general public, should they find a turtle, are able to call the hospital, and they will dispatch people who will come get the injured turtle. If you find an injured turtle, you get to name it. The turtles are usually at the hospital for a short stay, but some are permanent residents because the extent of their injuries is so severe, they will never be able to return to the wild. The hospital has released more than 2000 turtles since its opening in 1986.

Look at those babies! You can see red dots on their shelves which means that they are ready to be released to the wild.

The main missions of the hospital are:

  • Rehabilitate sick or injured turtles and return them to the wild
  • Educate the public about the sea turtles
  • Conduct and assist with sea turtle researches
  • Work for environmental legislation to make the beaches and water safe and clean for the sea turtles

How can you help?

  • You can contribute to a non-profit organization for sea turtle (You can even adopt a truble!)
  • You can help to clean the beach
  • Be responsible while driving a boat
  • Dispose of fishing lines properly
  • Help stop unregulated coastal development and non-sustainable agricultural practices
  • Do not buy sea turtle products, oil leather, meat or eggs…

All I can say is that you should go there and see all the amazing things the team is doing to help the turtles. We loved it. It was very interesting to know about all of these. I didn’t even know the sea turtles are endangered. I wish I were living closer because I would love to be a volunteer and participate in this mission. If you are traveling to the Florida Keys, I highly recommend that you stop at the hospital. I was amazing to see this place. Our guide Catherine was very nice and she was able to answer all of our questions.

Make sure to call ahead and make a reservation, because they are pretty busy. The visit lasts about 90 minutes; there is a presentation and then you are able to see the turtles staying at the hospital. They explain to you what injury each turtle has. You can see the turtles and take a lot of pictures.

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35 Comments

  • Reply Julia Dent

    That sounds like an awesome experience! I didn’t know about turtle hospitals, but I definitely want to check one out when I’m in Florida next.

    May 20, 2017 at 2:26 am
    • Reply Salomé

      You should. It is very informative. I have learnt so much. And I like that they are really taking care of the turtles and releasing them once they are healthy enough.

      August 12, 2017 at 4:47 pm
  • Reply Minna

    So cute! Great that they are raising awareness with the public too.

    May 20, 2017 at 2:49 am
    • Reply Salomé

      Yes the very cool thing about it is that is a non profit organization. It is really a must see for everyone.

      May 20, 2017 at 1:26 pm
  • Reply Nina Danielle

    Leatherbacks can seriously weigh up to 2,000?! That’s enormous 😯 Love the photos!

    May 20, 2017 at 3:47 am
    • Reply Salomé

      Thank you. Yes the Leatherbacks can weigh up to 2,000 lbs for the largest, isn’t it crazy?

      May 20, 2017 at 1:34 pm
  • Reply Rhiannon

    I had no idea this existed! What an amazing thing that they are doing. Turtles are adorable, and need to be looked after just like every other animal! I love that you can name them if you find one too, that’s such a cool idea! 😀

    May 20, 2017 at 5:28 am
    • Reply Salomé

      Yes the hospital is so amazing. The turtles are so cute. Some turtles have very funny names. 🙂

      May 20, 2017 at 1:36 pm
  • Reply Leslie Price

    Sounds like a fantastic place. I lived in Florida for 14 years and somehow I never made it here! I’ll have to put it on my list for the next time I’m there. There is a sea turtle hatchery here in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka, and I think I need to pay them a visit after reading this. I hope it’s as neat of a place as yours!

    May 20, 2017 at 6:09 am
    • Reply Salomé

      When you are back in Florida, you need to go. This is really a great place to visit. I love everything about this place. They are doing amazing work. I am sure the the sea turtle hanchera in Sri Lanka is a great place too 🙂

      May 20, 2017 at 1:40 pm
  • Reply Jaylin

    This is amazing! Thanks for sharing! I love all the positivity you are spreading and always like to see the GLT community helping out the world and it’s inhabitants!

    May 20, 2017 at 6:52 am
    • Reply Salomé

      Aww Thank you. I am so glad you liked it. Now you have to go visit the Turtle Hospital it is a wonderful place. I learnt so much. 🙂

      May 20, 2017 at 1:42 pm
  • Reply Karen

    I LOVE THIS! I have a good friend who lived in Marathon and I definitely need to share this with her. I love responsible animal sanctuaries that care for injured animals.

    May 20, 2017 at 1:52 pm
    • Reply Salomé

      Yes you should go with her. I am sure you would love it 🙂

      May 27, 2017 at 5:01 pm
  • Reply Nicole

    I admit I got a bit sad reading this, I can’t believe that so many are endangered but I’m glad that places like this exist to rehabilitate them and look after them. The little turtles are the cutest!

    May 20, 2017 at 2:19 pm
    • Reply Salomé

      I know I was sad too when they were telling us about all the threats that the sea turtles are facing. But it was very informative and everyone working at the hospital is amazing.

      May 27, 2017 at 5:04 pm
  • Reply Janelle Vecchio

    I haven’t been to Marathon since my kiddos were babies, but man they would love this now that they are older. I need to go back there. Thanks for the tips.

    May 20, 2017 at 2:21 pm
    • Reply Salomé

      You are welcome. Yes I am sure they would love it. And it is a great to educate the new generation. 🙂

      May 27, 2017 at 5:09 pm
  • Reply Janine Good

    So inspiring to see help for these beautiful animals. It is shame that they get hurt in their own habitat. I will add this to my Florida bucket list as I go there often!

    May 20, 2017 at 2:27 pm
    • Reply Salomé

      It is really a shame. But this place is amazing and is doing a wonderful job. You will definitely learn a lot and I am sure you will enjoy your visit. It is great to see places like this that are helping the sea turtles.

      May 27, 2017 at 5:11 pm
  • Reply Ketki Sharangpani

    Sounds like an awesome experience. Also love the fascinating info on the turtles! I was in the Keys last October and saw the turtle hospital sign but didn’t visit. Will go next time.

    May 20, 2017 at 2:50 pm
    • Reply Salomé

      Yes you need to stop next time you go back to the Keys. It is only 90 minutes but I learnt so much about the sea turtles. It is a great place to visit.

      May 27, 2017 at 5:13 pm
  • Reply Bryony

    I’m so pleased you got to have such an ethical experience. This centre genuinely sounds like a really important place to visit in Florida. As we know so many animal sanctuaries and hospitals just aren’t what they seem. Glad you had a positive experience.

    P.S I absolutely love turtles! Thanks for sharing your experience!

    May 20, 2017 at 2:56 pm
    • Reply Salomé

      You are welcome. I am delighted that you enjoy reading this article. It was definitely a wonderful experience. It makes you want to help out. They are doing a very good job contributing to the survival of the sea turtles in Florida. I loved it. 🙂

      May 27, 2017 at 5:18 pm
  • Reply Meg

    Very informative, and such an interesting place. So great that you had this opportunity. I have a daughter would absolutely love this!

    May 20, 2017 at 8:20 pm
    • Reply Salomé

      You should take her it is very interesting to see all the work they are doing. And it allows people to see sea turtles as well. 🙂

      May 27, 2017 at 5:16 pm
  • Reply Diana

    What a great experience. My daughter would love that

    May 20, 2017 at 11:46 pm
    • Reply Salomé

      Make sure to take her. It is really great for kids to see what they are doing. It is a very interesting experience.

      May 27, 2017 at 5:14 pm
  • Reply Sarah Shumate

    That is so cool that you took the time to do this. I think sea turtles are the most fascinating creatures! When we lived in Florida, I always wanted to get involved some way with them, but never had the opportunity to. When we go back to visit next, I’ll definitely try to check out this place!

    May 21, 2017 at 12:16 am
    • Reply Salomé

      Thank you. I wish I could help too but living in Orlando make it difficult. You definitely need to visit this place. It is amazing to see how they help the sea turtles. 🙂

      May 27, 2017 at 4:56 pm
  • Reply Eloise

    Yay! I love turtles and I love those helping their conservation. Good work! 🙂

    May 21, 2017 at 7:41 am
    • Reply Salomé

      It is a wonderful place with a great mission. If you have the chance you should visit. 🙂

      May 27, 2017 at 4:53 pm
  • Reply Agness of aTukTuk

    I love turtles and I feel so sad when I see them in a hos[ital. However, I am glad there is a place and people who help them!

    May 27, 2017 at 2:00 pm
    • Reply Salomé

      Agness this place is amazing, they are really taking good care of the turtles and release them to the wild when they are completely healed. You would love it there !

      May 27, 2017 at 4:51 pm
  • Reply Chanel | Cultural Xplorer

    The Turtle Hospital is something that I definitely hope to do during my road trip down the Keys!

    July 2, 2017 at 8:00 pm
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