In Marathon we walked up Highway 1 to the Turtle Hospital and did the guided tour. An impressive place, the tour educational and the turtles very viewable.
They deal with a wide range of problems including human caused such as boat impacts, ingesting debris and fouling by ropes / nets but also natural ones as well.
Floating is caused by gas build up in the shell which then makes it difficult for the turtle to dive for food or to avoid danger. They referred to the condition as ‘bubblebutt’. It could be the result of illness or injury such as a boat strike.
The fix is to fit weights to the shell as below on Sam. Unfortunately the shell outer coat is not permanent and eventually the weight will fall off. The hospital has a number of these turtles that they will have for the remainder of the turtle’s life as they can’t survive in the wild once the weight falls off. They can live over 80 years so that’s some care.
They have a very good surgery with heated table, x-ray facility and a team of vets who volunteer their time.
Individual tanks for turtles needing frequent treatment. As they improve they can be moved to the larger tanks and then into a caged area in the sea in preparation for release.
This turtle was in for ingestion of foreign objects which eventually get impacted. The hospital has treatment program for this developed through experience which includes edible oils and metamucil to assist in passing the debris.
They are opportunity feeders and will eat anything that floats in front of them. They are very firm about not putting your hands in the pools as you are likely to be bitten.
Turtles are difficult to deal with, surgery can only be done through the natural openings in the shell which does not leave a lot of room. The shell does not heal so it can’t be cut to allow surgery. Surgery is a last resort.
Once treated and cured they are released back into the sea.
It is a great facility but needs support. Here is their website where you can learn more about them and, if you wish, also make a donation.