Monday, 2 December 2013

The 3 R's -- Rescue, Rehab and Release

With another week to spare before the rush of Christmas holiday travel will probably start and thinking two weeks of diving would be enough, we booked a small vacation rental home in Marathon, Florida. It's a bungalow, located on a canal where residents can dock their boats and just one property away from the ocean.
Kitchen and dining room in our vacation rental.
Living room.
It's relaxing sitting on the deck -- except in the late afternoon & evening when the mosquitos and no-see-ums come out! 
Looking left from the patio.
Looking right from the patio -- out to the ocean.
Marathon is about half way down the Keys and, on a trip several years ago, was one of the places we remembered best due to a tour of the Turtle Hospital - a place dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of sea turtles.

There are about 38 turtles in the hospital right now. Some of them are permanent residents as they are unable to survive in the wild because of their injuries which are mostly a result of boat propellers. Some of the permanent residents will be adopted by zoos or aquariums for their exhibits. Many of the "patients" have fibropapilloma (tumours) caused by water pollution. The tumours are surgically removed, the turtles stay in the hospital for a year and, as long as the tumours don't come back, then they can be released. Once the turtles recover, they will be immune to fibropapilloma -- sort of like chicken pox in humans.

Note the fibropapilloma on this turtle's left eye and flipper.
This turtle has graduated to the large pool area until he's fully recovered and ready for release.
This loggerhead turtle named "Gizmo" was rescue in late October and is still getting antibiotics
to help him recover after found in very bad shape.
The turtle ambulance.
If you live in Florida, get a turtle licence plate and support a good cause!
The hospital buildings also have an interesting history. In the mid 80's it was a motel that had both a fresh water and salt water pool. The motel owner turned the salt water pool into a rehab area for turtles and funded it mostly himself. In 2005 a hurricane caused considerable damage in the area, the motel closed and the turtle hospital became a charitable organization. The motel office is now the gift shop and reception area for hospital tours and the motel guest rooms are offices and accommodation for hospital staff, some of whom need to be on-site 24 hours a day. The building next door that houses the hospital surgical area used to be a nightclub.

We've seen a lot of iguanas here at various places we've been at. Can you spot the two iguanas in this photo?

We've also had time to walk on the beach, hike some trails in a couple State Parks and visit the Crane Point Museum and Nature Center which has several nature trails and a wild bird center which, like the Turtle Hospital, is focused on rescue, rehabilitation and release.
Jellyfish on the beach. Colourful insides!
The elaborate door of the Crane Point Museum
Interesting colours in the water amongst the mangroves.
Andrew getting the down low view for some photos.

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