Several sea turtles arrived yesterday for rehabilitation at The Florida Aquarium’s $4.1 million Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center at the Center for Conservation in Apollo Beach. This is the second group of turtles from the state’s east coast to be cared for at the facility since it opened last January 2019. The Florida Aquarium’s Animal Response Team, supported by Florida Blue, picked up the sea turtles in Orlando and transported them to the Rehabilitation Center. These turtles will join three critically endangered loggerhead sea turtles from Cape Cod that were rescued and transported to the Center in December.
The turtles originated from Volusia County and St. Johns County. The green turtles were all cold-stunned and recently rescued on the east coast of Florida.
Cold-stunned turtles are unable to swim and can develop symptoms, including decreased heart rate, low blood circulation, and pneumonia. If they do not receive treatment, cold-stunned sea turtles can be susceptible to drowning, infections, predation, or boat strikes.
Upon arrival at the Center, members of the Aquarium’s Animal Response Team, checked the turtles’ vitals, including heart rate, respiratory rate, and temperature. All of the turtles are all in stable condition and are resting comfortably at the Center. The group will remain at the Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center until they are fully rehabilitated and will hopefully be returned to the ocean.
“Our goal is to rehabilitate these turtles to a healthy state to be released,” said Ari Fustukjian (Fuh-stook-shian), The Florida Aquarium’s Senior Staff Veterinarian. “The Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center is a working animal hospital, and our team is ready to provide the best possible care for these critically endangered sea turtles.”
The two-story, 19,000-square-foot Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center features five different rehabilitation pools, including one of the state’s deepest turtle-exclusive dive pools with an observation window. The pools range in size from 1,500 to 25,000-gallons.
The sea turtle dive pool, which reaches a depth of 11-feet, can be used to assess buoyancy issues, swim conditioning, and food trials before turtles are cleared by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to be returned to the wild.
The Center includes a state-of-the-art sea turtle surgery suite.
“Since opening its doors, The Florida Aquarium has helped rescue and rehab more than 150 endangered turtles. Also, since last January, The Florida Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center has released a total of 12 sea turtles back into their natural habitat” said Debborah Luke, PhD, Senior Vice President of Conservation.
All care and turtle rehabilitation by The Florida Aquarium is done with the approval of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) under conditions not harmful to marine turtles and authorized under conservation activities pursuant to FWC MTP-19-179.
About The Florida Aquarium
The Florida Aquarium actively participates in and promotes stewardship of the natural environment as part of our mission of conservation. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, The Florida Aquarium provides an opportunity to see over 8,000 aquatic and terrestrial animals, explore complex ecosystems, look for wild dolphins in Tampa Bay, play at the Splash Pad and more! Ranked #2 Aquarium in North America in a recent USA TODAY’S 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards, the aquarium is more than a must-see attraction, The Florida Aquarium is working to protect and restore our blue planet on many conservation fronts, including research and rescue efforts that help restore Florida’s sea turtle and coral populations and to ensure that sharks continue to swim our seas. In August of 2019, The Florida Aquarium, in partnership with Project Coral, became the first to successfully spawn critically endangered pillar coral in a laboratory. To learn more, follow us on social media at @floridaaquarium and visit www.flaquarium.org.
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