The Turtle Hospital Newsletter

The Turtle Hospital, Marathon, Florida Keys                    January 2016- Vol 9, Issue 1

In This Issue
It takes a village
Kemps Ridleys
Turtle Spotlight
Join Us on the web!
Adopt or become a Member
Quick Links

Dear Friend,

Hope everyone is staying warm through the winter. Even in the beautiful Florida Keys temperatures have dropped and some of our patients are finding themselves bundled up to fight off the cold. Despite cooler temps, things have been going swimmingly at the hospital. Here's a little update for you.

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About The Turtle Hospital
The Turtle Hospital is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that relies on the generosity of people like you. By purchasing sea turtle merchandise through our online store, you are helping to ensure that the Hospital operates at the highest possible caliber.  We also offer memberships and adoptions as a great way to support our turtles.
Together we can save sea turtles in the Florida Keys and around the world.



  Thanks for all your interest and support.

It Takes A Village

The proverb is "It takes a village to raise a child". Here at The Turtle hospital it isn't much different, it really does take a village or in our case, a whole community, to save endangered sea turtles.

First it begins with the rescue of the sea turtles. We just don't have the resources to send staff out everyday looking to find sick and injured sea turtles. But we don't need to since the residents and visitors of the Florida Keys are already around and on the water on a regular basis. These amazing folks find these turtles in need of rescue and report them to us. Pictured to the left is the McKegg family who helped to get Leroy, a  juvenile green sea turtle with fibropapilloma, rescued. As a thank you, the people who report the turtles in distress to us get to pick the name for the sea turtle.

Then the rescue of the sea turtle begins which can sometimes require the help of law enforcement agencies like Florida Fish And Wildlife Commission or the Coast Guard. The Turtle Hospital does not have our own rescue boats so if the turtles are found off shore these agencies help us get to the turtle as well as assist in the rescue. Recently, The Coast Guard helped us respond to a Loggerhead Sea Turtle, who was named Laurie, that was found entangled in the rope of a crab trap. 


After the turtle is rescued, the process of rehabilitation begins. Much of the care required by the sea turtles is provided to them by the rehabilitation staff here at our hospital, but we also rely on veterinarians from the Marathon veterinary hospital to help in their recovery. Here you see one of our rehabilitation specialists, Lauren, assisting Dr. Raj from the Marathon Veterinary hospital in the removal of fibropapilloma tumors from a green sea turtle named Squirt.

Even with a state of the art turtle hospital, there are still some things we are not able to do on site. So in certain cases our turtles travel to receive the care they need. To the right, you see Hunter, an adult male loggerhead head, who took a trip to our local human hospital to have a CT Scan preformed. Our turtles also travel to their veterinarian ophthalmologist, Dr. Karpinski, to have the tumors from their eyes removed.

Of course the last step of what we do is returning the sea turtles to their ocean home. Again we find ourselves surrounded by the people of our loving community, gathered in anticipation, cheering and sending well wishes as the sea turtles are released and swim off into the deep blue sea.

There is one more very important part of our village though! That's you! It is your support by visiting our hospital, becoming members, adopting sea turtles and making donations that makes so much of what we do possible. Over 75,000 people participated in our educational programs in 2015. Each one of them played a key role in keeping our hospital operational and able to provide this place for sick and injured sea turtles to receive the care that they need. Thank you so much for you kindness and generosity.
Kemp's Ridleys Cold Stun Again
Last year, you may remember, The Turtle Hospital helped in the rehabilitation of over 1200 critically endangered Cold Stunned Kemps Ridleys that had stranded near Cape Cod. Thirty of them were flown to The Turtle Hospital to receive care for pneumonia and other aliments. It is not uncommon for a small amount of Kemps Ridleys to strand in the colder northern waters of the Atlantic this time of year. They travel north during the summer but should return south before the waters turn too cold for them. Sea turtles do best in waters warmer than 65 degrees. When the water gets too cold their body begin to shut down and they float lifelessly into shore. The winter of 2014/2015 saw an uncommonly high number of Kemps Ridleys strand and the patient load was greater than rehabilitation facilities in that area were able to provide care for. Many Kemps were flown to facilities around the US, including our Turtle Hospital, who all helped share the patient load.
This winter more Kemps have been found cold stunned along the East Coast. Along the coast of North Carolina almost a 1,000 Kemps Ridleys have already had to be rescued and more have been found farther north as well. We are all wishing them the best of luck in a speedy recovery.

 Turtle Spotlight- Squirt

This month's featured patient is a sub adult green sea turtle named Squirt!  Squirt was found floating in a marina in Islamorada on July 30th, 2015.  She had Fibropapilloma tumors on her eyes and body, was entangled in fishing line, had ingested fishing line, and had been struck in the head by a boat propeller.
Once we got Squirt back to the hospital we untangled her from the external fishing line and shot a few x-rays of her head.  From these images we could see that the propeller strike had breached her skull, so we called one of our veterinarians from Marathon Veterinary Hospital to come in and take a look at her head.  Dr. Gerry was able to pick away many loose bone fragments and also re-positioned a large skull fragment that the impact had punched out of place.  As Squirt gained strength over the next week and a half we treated this wound regularly with betadine rinses and honey soaks to prevent infection.  Squirt was finally stable enough for us to perform an endoscopy on August 10th.  This procedure confirmed that she did not have any internal Fibropapilloma tumors and also allowed us to determine her gender.  4 days later we took her to visit our veterinary ophthalmologist's office outside Miami, where Dr. Karpinski was able to remove her eye tumors before they caused any serious damage to her vision. For the next month Squirt was kept in our critical care trailer while she recovered from eye surgery and her head wound began to heal.
In mid-September Squirt was strong enough to be moved to our outdoor enclosure where she could soak up lots of Florida Keys sunshine.  Up until this point she still had no appetite and was refusing to eat on her own.  We had been tube feeding liquid meals to her every day, but with no improvement in her appetite we decided to begin supplementing these meals with IV nutrition.  We also added a pain medication to her tube feedings to help with any residual pain from her head wound, gave her a blood transfusion, and removed one more piece of bone from the wound to her skull.  All of these treatments combined seemed to help as gradually Squirt began accepting pieces of food that were placed into her mouth!  The progress was slow at first, but a little over 3 months after she had arrived Squirt began eating her full diet all by herself!  Once she had turned this corner Squirt's overall health began noticeably improving.  She began to gain weight, finally passed the fishing line that she had ingested, and started actively swimming instead of her usual behavior of floating with her head and flippers hanging.  The last issue to address was the FP tumors, so over the next few months Squirt underwent several more surgeries to remove the remaining tumors from her body.

Half a year and 8 surgeries later Squirt is tumor free, off all meds, and her head wound is completely healed!  Meal time has become her favorite time of the day and she weighs in at a healthy 40 pounds.  She has a gentle personality but is strong enough to always give the rehabbers a run for their money when it's time for a routine blood draw.  Squirt's amazing recovery has definitely earned her a special place in our hearts and we can't wait for her to be released once she makes it a year tumor free!

Join us on the web! 

Thanks for joining us this month! Continue on with us by checking out some of the links below that are updated daily! (We're also on Instagram, @marathonturtlehospital)


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Post blogs, join discussions and share photos and videos online with us. See you on the web! 

Adopt or Become a Member!

Thanks to your great support, we are able to give these endangered sea turtles the care they are in such desperate need of. By becoming a member or adopting a sea turtle for a $35.00 fee, you can help us achieve even more. Visit the links below to head to our online store to learn more about these programs.

Bubble Butt is our longest resident of The Turtle Hospital being part of our family since 1989. He was the first turtle seen with the affliction now know as bubble butt syndrome. Butt Butt is one of our adoptable sea turtles.


Adopt a Sea Turtle

Become a Member




We hope you enjoyed this month's newsletter!

Be sure to visit our website,, for more stories, news and updates on your favorite turtles! Thank you for your interest and support! Remember, we couldn't do it without you!

Best Regards,
The Turtle Hospital Staff

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