Turtwig’s New Home – By Tommy Cutt

turtwig

Turtwig is a sub-adult green sea turtle who has been a patient in our hospital since August 2009. Turtwig was admitted to our hospital with buoyancy issues which most likely resulted from an old boat injury. Unfortunately, after several different procedures and treatments these issues could not be resolved without medication. Without a digestive stimulant, Turtwig is unable to digest food properly. This allows gas to build up, making Turtwig buoyant. A buoyant sea turtle would not be able to survive in the wild. In addition to being unable to successfully forage for food, the turtle would be very susceptible to predators and mankind, ex. Boat hits. Our goal was to find Turtwig a permanent home.

It is a very big commitment to provide a permanent home for a sea turtle; adult Green Sea Turtle’s weigh up to 400 pounds and are 3-4 feet in length. In addition to space requirements, nutritional and medical costs are very expensive. Fortunately, Florida Oceanographic Society (FOS) was very interested in providing a permanent home for Turtwig in their game fish lagoon.

FOS is a beautiful facility, and their game fish lagoon will provide a great home for Turtwig. The game fish lagoon is a 750,000 gallon lagoon that currently contains about 23 different species, for a total of over 100 fish! We were all extremely excited yesterday, Friday, July 23, to learn that FOS received their sea turtle permits and that Turtwig would be going to a permanent home.

After receiving a good scrubbing by Staff and Volunteers, Turtwig was ready for the trip to Florida Oceanographic.

We loaded Turtwig up and headed north. Upon arriving we were anxious to see Turtwig’s reaction in the new environment.

I handed Turtwig down to Roger White, Aquarium and Life Support Manager at FOS. Upon entering the water Turtwig immediately swam off and began to explore the new surroundings.

We were all very excited to see how comfortable Turtwig was upon entering the water. Green Sea Turtles are herbivorous animals; it did not take long for Turtwig to locate the natural food supply (algae and plant life) within the lagoon.

Turtwig must receive oral meds every 48 hours. In order to make this possible LMC volunteer, Caitlin Sullivan, was able to train Turtwig using  positive reinforcement target training to accept oral medicine. Caitlin will work alongside staff and volunteers at FOS to ensure Turtwig continues to respond to the training.

FOS has provided Turtwig with a great home in their Game Fish Lagoon. This is the center’s first turtle; the staff and volunteers are extremely excited. Turtwig formed an immediate friendship with FOS’s, Roger White.

Florida Oceanographic Society is located on Hutchinson Island, Stuart, Florida.

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