The owner of the Christmas Shoppe advised us to visit the Turtle Center on the island - I'm so glad she did! It was awesome, incredibly educational but also fun and interesting. The kids really enjoyed stamping their bookmarks and finding out what kind of turtle they were - great idea!
We attended a presentation on what happens when the turtles get too cold (it has a specific name but I am totally blanking right now - no doubt Jake would remember but he's in bed...), Jake and Caitlin got to volunteer. *on edit, it's called 'cold stunning', both J and C remembered! * They had to pull shells out of very cold and warm water - Caitlin, poor girl, got the very cold bowl - proved the point that it took longer, she could barely feel her hand by the end, which I suppose was the idea - takes the turtles longer to do anything when they're too cold. Also makes them more of a target for limpets and other 'hang on' critters, which makes them heavier and therefore even harder to move themselves along. It's a visious cycle and they become quite emaciated.
We headed into the hospital area after chatting with the presenter for a good long while, Jake and Caitlin full of questions as always! They are currently caring for a quite a few turtles, all swimming around in their own tanks. It is generally their hope that they keep the turtles for a minimum amount of time but Griffin had been there for 2 years. They believe he suffered the equivalent of a human stroke and has brain damage, he floats with his head to one side and struggles to dive. For this reason, he has 3 strips of velcro on his back, to which they attach a customized weight belt to help him sink - it's amazing what they're doing.
Another turtle had lost both of its back fins in a shark attack and was learning to adapt to swimming with just the front two. There was also a large number of terrapins, rescued as eggs when their mothers were run over by cars as they were making their way to nesting sites. Again, questions abounded, so much so that we were still there when the feeding presentation began - so we were able to watch them being fed. They receive their food in a huge block of ice to encourage them to use their beaks - they appear to manage just fine.
On returning to the main area, we discovered a number of fun game activities to play which kept their attention. Also another employee was adding to the information we'd aleady heard - so more time passed and as we were about to leave, they let us know that they were bringing Emma turtle into the examination room which we were able to view through a glass screen, well, of course, we couldn't leave then!
Emma's shell had been smashed by a boat rudder and had an enormous gash in the middle of it. If she had been left to fend for herself, it would certainly have become infected and likely something would've fallen into the wound and punctured her lung. The vets were treating the wound area with a honey medicine and cleaning it out each afternoon and recovering it. Slowly it will heal as scar tissue joins the shell back together.
It was a fascinating afternoon. While, of course, most of this information could've been found in books, actually seeing it 'hands-on' made for much more of a memorable experience and I know we'll be talking about this for weeks to come.
States visited: 49!
visited 49 states (98%)
Create your own visited map of The United States
Miles driven so far -
LOOP 1 (Aug 2009 - Aug 2010): 29,000
LOOP 2 (May - August 2012): 10,800
Highest altitude with camper: 11,158ft (I-70, CO)