Sea turtles have been around for the past 110 million years, but the past several hundred have brought unprecedented challenges. Here are a few things today’s sea turtles face that their ancient ancestors never had to worry about.
- Boat Injuries
- Artificial lights
- Commercial and recreational fishing gear
- Urbanization of nesting habitats
Our Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Program has saved thousands of turtles, thanks to cutting edge veterinary talent and technology. Running a turtle ER is no easy feat, but we prepare ourselves for any scenario. Here are a few common procedures our patients undergo.
- Flipper repair/amputation
- Hook Removal
- FP Tumor Removal
- Antibiotic/Medication Series
- Fishing Line Entanglement Removal
Healing sick and injured sea turtles is only one part of our mission. Every patient is an opportunity to learn, and we regularly facilitate studies that broaden our biological understanding of these gentle creatures. Here are a few examples of past and current research initiatives we’ve championed:
- Fibropapillomatosis and the Sea Turtle Lymphatic System
A joint effort among Florida Atlantic University, Nova Southeastern University, and Gumbo Limbo’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Facility, with participation of the University of Texas Medical Center in Houston. This study aims to characterize the sea turtle lymphatic system and investigate any potential relation to the fibropapillomatosis disease common in sea turtles.
- Effect of UV Light on FP Tumor Recovery in Sea Turtles
This is a joint study between Florida Atlantic University and Gumbo Limbo’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Facility examining the effects of UV light on vitamin D levels and immune system function in green sea turtles with Fibropapillomatosis. This research is being conducted as part of a student’s Master’s thesis.
- Acoustic Tracking of Juvenile Green Sea Turtles
A collaborative study between Gumbo Limbo’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Facility and Inwater Research Group (IRG) to investigate the movements of local juvenile green sea turtles, particularly in relation to recreational fishing piers where a number of sea turtles are found with hook and line related injuries.
- Satellite Tracking of Rehabilitated Sea Turtles
Since 2014, Gumbo Limbo’s Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Facility has satellite tracked select rehabilitated sea turtles each year to learn more about their post-rehabilitation behaviour. Initial results demonstrate that rehabilitated turtles follow similar behaviors as wild sea turtles. Satellite tracking of sea turtles treated at Gumbo Limbo will ultimately contribute to a broader collaborative study investigating these trends.
Once a sea turtle patient has recovered and is ready to be released back into the ocean, it is vital that every aspect is handled with care and intention. We ensure all patients are released near where they were recovered, or in suitable habitats that will allow them the best chance of success back in the wild. Here are a few highlights of the successful releases we’ve accomplished over the years:
- 255 Green Sea Turtles
- 65 Loggerhead Sea Turtles
- 20 Kemps Ridley Sea Turtles
- 15 Hawksbill Sea Turtles
- 20+ Cold Stunned Sea Turtles (during December 2020 emergency)
If you find a dead, sick, or injured sea turtle, please call FWC’s 24-hour Wildlife Alert Number, or Gumbo Limbo’s Sea Turtle Rescue Hotline:
Please be prepared to answer the following questions:
- What is the exact location of the animal?
- Is the turtle alive or dead?
What is the approximate size of the turtle?
- Is the turtle marked with spray paint? (This may indicate that the turtle has been previously documented.)
- What is the location of the closest access point to the turtle?