Editor’s Note: We said goodbye to our baby sea turtle patients in October 2022. They were taken by boat back to sargassum!
In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, more than 200 baby sea turtles were brought to our Sea Turtle Healing Center for care. Made up of species including green, loggerhead and even a few hawksbill sea turtles, the Sea Turtle Preservation Society brought most of the tiny animals from the Cape Canaveral area to the Center on Thursday, September 29.
The group wasn’t unexpected for our team. Major weather events like hurricanes can waylay baby sea turtles who are in offshore weather disrupted rafts of sargassum or are making their first swim into the ocean, headed to the offshore patches of seaweed that provide them with shelter and food. Many of the Atlantic coast sea turtle rehabilitation facilities are receiving these small turtles.
Each of the babies is carefully assessed by our Healing Center staff and volunteers. They’re categorized by species as well as by size – “hatchlings” are under 5 centimeters long, while “post-hatchlings” are 5 centimeters or longer. Any injured or ill turtles are treated by our veterinary team for care.
The healthy turtles get situated in a tank outfitted with special enrichment items that allow them to comfortably float (although many spend their time whizzing around the tank!). They’re fed lettuce and a mashed-up mixture of fish, shrimp and clams, likely their first meal since eating their egg’s yolk.
Our staff and volunteers will be caring for these turtles until open ocean conditions improve. The baby sea turtles will be transported offshore in a boat and placed back in the weed lines.
If you find a baby sea turtle on the beach, do NOT place them back in the water. Please immediately call Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-3922 for rescue instructions. If you find distressed, sick, dead or injured sea turtles Brevard County you may contact the Sea Turtle Preservation Society at 321-676-1701.