New patient

September 2, 2006

We just got a call from the folks at FWC and they have a near adult size green turtle that doesn’t have severe injuries but needs at least a check up and observation.  This turtle should be at the center sometime later today.  Sure is a season of large green turtles for us.  We have gone several years without a large green but have recently had Fiona and Kali. Stay tuned for more details on the new one.


Fiona’s farewell

August 29, 2006

In advance of Ernesto we decided to release Fiona today. It was a certainly an understated affair with staff, volunteers and a few passers-by at the event. Certainly not the hoopla that she would have deserved if it was not an “emergency” release. Heaven knows she had a lot of fans and we would have liked to throw her a nice going away party. It was instead a fairly quiet send off into the surf. She took a while to crawl the short distance to the water (we could not have carried her a step further – 160 lbs.) but once she got into swimming depth she powered offshore fairly quickly. Bet she’s gonna miss the salad bar!

Thanks to the volunteers that were able to come in and get the place cleaned up for the storm – and we know the rest of you were there in spirit! Turns out Ernesto looks like he is going to be more bark than bite – but after the last 2 hurricane seasons that is a relief! We should be back in business on Thursday if we have power at the center and the park is open.

A couple of parting shots of Fiona:



Hurricane prep

August 28, 2006

Oh, it’s that time of year again.  With the possibility of Ernesto bearing down on us we will be preparing here tomorrow (Tuesday) morning.  That means securing all loose equipment around the yard and building, covering computers to keep them dry and making sure the gift shop items are kept dry as well.

For storms like this we dry-dock the turtles (put them inside in bins).  They are safer there than they would be in a tank with the potential of flying debris.  The exception in this case may be Fiona.  While we are not ready quite yet to part with her, at her size dry-docking places a tremendous stress on her system.  She will likely be released here at the beach sometime tomorrow.  Gotta go take some more photos before she goes 🙂

To follow the storm predictions, you can look here:

National Hurricane Center 

How lucky is Fiona?

August 22, 2006

We have had several reminders in the past few weeks of how lucky Fiona is to be alive. One of our more unpleasant duties here is to document dead turtles when they wash in. We consider it unpleasant because none of us like to see dead turtles. Yesterday we had just such a call from Singer Island. It turned out to be a large adult female loggerhead that had been hit by a boat propeller.



This is the second adult female loggerhead hit by a boat that we have had in the past two weeks. Of the ten dead turtles that we have documented locally this year, 6 of them have been boat strikes. Which brings me back to Fiona. If those prop strikes had just been a little deeper, she likely would have drowned due to a punctured lung. She’s one lucky turtle.

For those of you who are interested in learning more about sea turtle anatomy, the book by Dr. Jeanette Wyneken, The Anatomy of Sea Turtles, is available online. You can download individual chapters or the entire book by clicking here. It’s the reference we use here at the center for any anatomy questions.

Turtle Personalities

August 15, 2006

Some people claim that these turtles do not have personalities. Those people have not hung around the turtle yard enough and definitely have not met Fiona. That turtle does have a personality and it screams “MORE ROMAINE”. Either that or “Where is my rock for belly scratches?”

It’s actually kind of amusing to watch her after she is done eating the veggies that are tied to the rock – she will use it to scratch her plastron. She swishes herself back and forth across the rock, using it as a scratching post. This is not really unusual behavior for green turtles. They are known to use reefs and rock ledges to scrape their carapace and plastron in the wild.

On another note, is it fair to have a favorite turtle? Or should the turtles here be like kids and pets – you’re not supposed to have a favorite? (Or maybe you do have a favorite but you don’t let them know it!)  There are definite favorites at times amongst the staff here – how about you?  Do you have a favorite – or one that you miss?

General update

August 9, 2006

Fiona is fat and happy – her wound is healing very nicely. Did we mention that she is fat? F.A.T. 🙂 The scar tissue is filling in and starting to get hard and thick in places. However, some areas are still quite soft and because those areas are immediately above her lung we have to wait until they are sufficiently thick to protect her before she is released. The tissue is starting to develop some pigment which corresponds to the patterns on her scutes – changing from pink to dark grey.

Joy is, well, fat and happy. Just a matter of time for her as well. Sometime in the next few weeks we would like to try some more whole lobster on her to gauge how her jaw strength is improving. It is lobster season here in south Florida so if any of you divers have a couple of lobsters to spare Joy would appreciate it.

Belize and Jonah continue to grow. We are still waiting for Belize to be able to dive consistently before we can comfortably release him.

Miracle is still hanging in there. Getting some supervised pool time. We are hoping that the soft tissue damage will resolve without leaving permanent neurological damage – more “wait and see”.

Hugo will go very soon – maybe next week.  Sparrow continues to recover well – that is one mad turtle that wants out of here now. Sparrow will likely get released about 2 minutes after the stitches come out!

Tomorrow we have a new patient coming from the St. Lucie power plant. Anemic, emaciated sub-adult loggerhead – or “the usual”. This is certainly the most common type of turtle we get at the center. The greens – especially the big ones – have been a refreshing change.

The salad bar

July 6, 2006

Jiminy Cricket! Fiona can pack away the greens! She is up to her 10th 12th head of romaine today and is showing no signs of stopping. We cleaned out the romaine selection at Publix this morning – woe be to anyone who wants a Caesar salad for dinner tonight. Did I mention that we are accepting Publix gift cards to support this beast? 😉

Belly up to the salad bar

Bobo was released on the beach just south of the Sebastian Inlet this morning. According to the state rep who did the release there was a fair amount of press at the event. She said to keep an eye on the media because our Bobo may show up in a newspaper somewhere. She also said that he gave a pretty good show (we know he would). While the loggerheads they were also releasing seemed unimpressed with it all, Bobo was slap happy and “enthusiastic”.