Adopt a Washback Sea Turtle!

Adopt a Washback Sea Turtle!

Published: Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Adopt a Washback Sea Turtle Returns this Year to Support the Sea Turtle Hospital at Whitney Laboratory

Symbolic adoptions available October 18 – November 1, 2023

Join the Sea Turtle Hospital at UF Whitney Laboratory to help support hundreds of washback turtles cared for by hospital staff each season by symbolically adopting a washback this fall, named* by you! When a gift of $20 or more is made to support the Sea Turtle Hospital, you will receive an email with your personalized washback adoption certificate.

Adopt a Washback Sea Turtle

To adopt a washback turtle visit beginning October 18 through November 1. The Hospital’s goal is for 250 washback turtles to be symbolically adopted and named. Since the program began in 2020, 568 washback sea turtle adoptions have been made.

Washbacks are sea turtle hatchlings that have made it to the open ocean, began eating, and are on their way to the line of Sargassum seaweed, over 50-100 miles in the ocean! With fall storms, strong ocean currents and winds, sea turtle hatchlings that make it to the seaweed can be pushed back onto the beach even months later - and become a washback. Washback turtles cannot get back to their Sargassum habitat by themselves. They used all their egg nutrition to swim out that far, and now can’t make the swim back out to thrive.

“We cared for our first post-hatchling or washback of the season in September, similar to last year,” said Catherine Eastman, Sea Turtle Hospital Program Manager. “Typically, we see these post-hatchlings/washbacks anywhere from August 1 – December 31 and we could see anywhere from 20-400 babies. It’s thanks to you and your symbolic adoptions that we can successfully care for these little ones and support our mission.”

When they are brought to the Sea Turtle Hospital, staff watch over and care for them. They make sure they get their energy back for a boat ride home to continue on with their incredible turtle journey. Each washback is treated just like a patient in the hospital.

When they arrive they receive a full exam, fluids if dehydrated, a patient number, and a swim test. If any of the washbacks have injuries, they are treated by our veterinary care team. Each washback receives a two character ID which is written on their carapace with marker (don’t worry it is removed before they are released). This ID helps track who is eating and improving  or who needs extra attention.

Washbacks get fed 3-5 times a day and the animal care team monitors their overall body condition and health. Once cleared for release, staff work with MyFWC Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and neighboring facilities to organize an offshore boat trip to release the washbacks in their Sargassum seaweed habitat.

If you encounter a washback sea turtle (small hatchling size), call MyFWC 1-888-404-3922 and if directed, deliver to our drop-off location in front of the Whitney Laboratory Administration Building where our essential staff check throughout the day.

*The washback turtle naming is symbolic, but the certificate is real! For questions, please contact Ellie Padgett at or 904-201-8471.

Adopt a Washback Sea Turtle