Hatchling to Washback

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.

Care at the Hospital

Care at the Hospital

The Sea Turtle Hospital staff cares for hundreds of washbacks each season. When they are brought to the Sea Turtle Hospital, we watch over and care for them. We make sure they get their energy back for a boat ride out to their ocean home. Each washback is treated just like a patient in our 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 us track who is eating and improving or who needs extra attention.

Our washbacks get fed 3-5 times a day and our animal care team monitors their overall body condition and health. Once cleared for release, we work with FWC and neighboring facilities to organize an offshore boat trip to release the washbacks in their Sargassum seaweed habitat. 

Helping Washbacks

If you encounter a washback sea turtle (small hatchling size), call MyFWC Florida Fish and Wildlife 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.

If you would like to join us to help support the care of washbacks gifts can be made online or by mail. Our successes together wouldn’t be possible without the continued support of Sea Turtle friends like you! 

Make a Gift

Washback Lifecycle

Thank you Washback Friends!

Thank you Washback Friends!

Thank you to all of our Washback Friends who symbolically named and Adopted a Washback during the past few seasons. We couldn't do what we do without your support!

2022 Adopted Washback Names

2021 Adopted Washback Names

2020 Adopted Washback Names