Visiting a Sea Turtle Hospital


Lauren Courtney Norman>>Hi, my name is Lauren
Courtney Norman, and as a member of Oceana, I’m concerned about the future of sea turtles.
That’s why I’m here today at the Marine Science Center in Ponce Inlet, FL to learn more about
what we can do to save them from extinction. Come on, let’s see what we can learn. I’m here with Michael Brothers outside the
Marine Science Center and Michael, tell me, why is it so noisy here? Michael Brothers>>You know, that’s a great
point. It is noisy. But the reason it’s noisy is that we are a sea turtle hospital, and
with a major sea turtle rehabilitation center like this, we have a lot of life support systems
that are required to keep all of our pools healthy and free of bacteria and make important,
healthy environments for our sea turtles. Lauren>>Tell me about the sea turtles that
are found in Florida. Brothers>>Well, Florida is fortunate enough
to have 5 of the world’s sea turtle species right here in Florida. The most common one
that we have on the east coast of Florida is the Loggerhead Sea Turtle, which is the
one right up there. The second most common one is this large Green Sea Turtle that you
see right here. Then we have the Hawksbill Sea Turtle, the one with the very colorful
shell. And then we have the biggest one of all, and that is the huge Leatherback Sea
Turtle. Lauren>>That’s the grandaddy of all the sea
turtles. Brothers>>They are huge. Up to 1,300 pounds
and even more… Lauren>>1,300 pounds! Wow, I, that’s… Brothers>>…huge creatures. But we also
have the smallest of the sea turtles, and that is the rare Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle.
And we are fortunate enough to have an occasional Kemps Ridley sea turtle come here and nest.
It only gets to about 100 pounds. Lauren>>I’m here with Michelle Bauer and
Michelle is a sea turtle rehab specialist here at the center. So Michelle, tell us about
the sea turtle that you have. What kind of species is it? Bauer>>Well, this is a juvenile Green Sea
Turtle, and it’s found a lot here in Florida in our inter-coastal waterways where there’s
primarily a lot of sea grass beds for them to forage on. And then as they get older and
larger, they go out to the open ocean. Lauren>>What kinds of problems do you encounter,
you know, that you see a lot of problems with sea turtles? Bauer>>Well, we see just about everything
that you can imagine. We get, ingestion of foreign objects is a big one. Sea turtles,
Loggerheads, Greens, they’re all opportunistic feeders, so if they can catch it, if it’s
floating, if it looks like a jellyfish, they’ll eat it. We’ve pulled out cigarette butts,
candy wrappers, just about everything out of a sea turtle. Fishing line, balloons, streamers,
so they’ll eat just about anything. We get them entangled in crab traps and fishing line
that’s left out there and discarded. And that actually causes amputations or even strangulation
on these guys. And then there’s boat propeller injuries that we see, and those can be pretty
damaging. And then some sort of natural events, like cold stunning events when the temperature
drops. Lauren>>What exactly does that mean? Bauer>>These guys are actually cold-blooded
and their body temp is the same as their environment. So when the water goes from 60 to 40, and
they drop that fast, it basically just almost paralyzes them to where they can’t move, they
can’t function, they stop digesting food. So when they come in, their internal core
temp is actually 40 degrees. That’s 10 degrees above freezing, so they’re almost actually
frozen. Lauren>>Wow, that’s awful. So I want to learn about a TED. I want to
know what it does and how it works. Brothers>>Sure. A TED is a Turtle Excluder
Device, T.E.D. or “TED,” and they are mandated to be on all shrimp trawlers now in the United
States. So, they are an effort to try and reduce the numbers of sea turtles that get
killed in shimp trawling nets. They are basically, like, a metal grate placed in the net system
so that as all of the shrimp and other creatures are coming in, including a sea turtle, they
come in, but the sea turtle would hit this metal grate. When the sea turtle hits the
grate, it follows the grate down and it will find an escape route out, a hole through the
net, a special pouch through the net that allows it to escape. But the small creatures,
like the shrimp, will go right through those metal grates. And so, they just go past them.
But a sea turtle hits it, and goes down and out and escapes. Lauren>>And you’ve definitely seen a difference,
and I’m sure the fisherman have reported a difference as well. Brothers>>Absolutely, they really do work.
And they have been a real benefit to the health of sea turtles. Lauren>>And if you want to learn more, you
can definitely go to the website, www.oceana.org, to learn how you can help save sea turtles
as well.

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