Are you fascinated by turtles? If you are, then the Turtle Hospital at Marathon down in Florida Keys is where you should head. Staying at a luxury Florida villa in the Keys is a perfect base for all the attractions in the area too.
The hospital has been set up to rescue and nurse injured turtles from the seas around the Keys. Unfortunately the turtles often suffer injuries from boat collisions or by getting their flippers entangled in fishing lines. Sometimes it is the ingestion of foreign objects like fishing hooks or plastic rubbish which cause their digestive systems to block. The hospital treats 4 kinds of turtles which call the seas around the islands home. They are Loggerhead, Green, Hawksbill and Kemp’s Ridleys.
Sometimes the hospital has as many as 45 turtles in care at any one time. As soon as the turtles are nursed back to health though they are released back into the water. Loggerheads and Greens are released at Pigeon Key and Kemp’s Ridleys at Dry Tortugas beyond Key West. During the summer you might see newly hatched baby turtles at the hospital that have either got lost and disorientated or injured. They are cared for at the hospital and released back into the waters as quickly as possible.
The Turtle Hospital also has some permanent residents. These are turtles which have been too badly injured to release back into their natural habitat.
This is a working hospital so visitors see real day to day life during their 90 minute tour. They see how turtles are cared for and treated before their rehabilitation. They also get to see the big salt water pool which is the rehabilitation facility and it’s here they get to meet the turtles ‘in person’ and feed them. Definitely the best bit for most visitors.
The tours are very popular and although they run once every hour on the hour, it is still advisable to book.
It’s a real favourite attraction for families with children who all love getting up close to animals generally. They seem to have a special affection for turtles perhaps it’s due to the Finding Nemo characters, Crush and Squirt.
Things to know
- There is a gift shop on site
- And an Education Center
- Under 18s must have an adult with them
- Cost of entrance is $15 for adults and $7.50 for youngsters aged 4 – 12
- The center is open every day
Adopt a turtle
If a visit seals the deal and you’re hooked on sea turtles, you can adopt one for an annual fee of $35. As an adopter you get the biography of your new adopted friend plus a magnet picture and a certificate of adoption. You’ll also receive regular updates. The adoption money goes towards looking after your chosen turtle and paying for food and medicine.