Sea Turtle Hospital One-Year Anniversary Open House Will Feature Family Friendly Activities

Sea Turtle Hospital One-Year Anniversary Open House Will Feature Family Friendly Activities

Published: Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The University of Florida Sea Turtle Hospital at Whitney Lab is pleased to announce that it will host its One-Year Anniversary Open House on Dec. 11, 2016, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the Whitney Lab campus, 9505 Ocean Shore Blvd. The open house will feature family friendly activities to celebrate this important milestone for the hospital. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend.

Open house guests will have the opportunity to tour the Sea Turtle Hospital, experience the Traveling Zoo, explore educational booths and exhibitions, create crafts and talk to sea turtle and marine biology experts. The Sea Turtle Hospital tour will feature a look at the treatment room to gain a greater understanding of the procedures and technologies used to care for the sea turtles. Also as part of the tour, guests will be able to meet current sea turtle patients and learn about their stories and care. The hospital team will share success stories of past patients too.

One of the five sea turtles that guests will be able to meet at the open house is Barnett. A local fisherman found the juvenile green sea turtle entangled in fishing line. Due to the severity of the wounds from the fishing line, the Sea Turtle Hospital team had to amputate Barnett’s right front flipper. Barnett is now successfully recovering at the hospital.

The Sea Turtle Hospital opened in October 2015 to provide rehabilitation, education and research for sea turtle conservation in Northeast Florida. The hospital rehabilitates debilitated and injured sea turtles, and, once healthy and cleared by the veterinarian, releases them back to their habitat. In its first year, the hospital rehabilitated and released 10 sea turtles.

“We are honored to be able to provide care to the sea turtles in this area,” said Sea Turtle Hospital Program Coordinator Catherine Eastman. “We have accomplished a lot this past year, but there is still so much to do and so many more sea turtles to help.”

Besides rehabilitating and releasing sea turtles, the scientists at Whitney Lab research fibropapilloma, which is a complex disease that creates internal and external tumors on the sea turtle that inhibit normal functioning. This disease has been increasingly impacting sea turtles in Northeast Florida waters. The goal of the research is to advance the understanding of the virus, its life cycle, transmission and effect on marine animal health.

The open house was originally scheduled for October, but the date had to be changed due to Hurricane Matthew. The hospital sustained damage from the storm and cleanup efforts have been underway since then. The hospital will be ready for guests to enjoy the open house on Dec. 11.

The Sea Turtle Hospital depends on the generous support of the community to operate. Therefore, a donation of $10 is suggested for admission into the open house.