Turtle Hospital? What’s a turtle hospital? We were staying in Marathon, Florida which is nicely situated between Key Largo and Key West. Our drive to Key West took us past an unusual sight, especially if you are from northern Canada, like we are. Glad we stopped.
What a remarkable place! What looks like an old 50s motel is now a sanctuary for damaged sea turtles. And what an operation! The kids will love this place. And so will any adults with a fondness for our giant hard-shelled friends of the sea.
The Turtle Hospital (located in Hidden Harbor) was opened in 1986. Since that time, the hospital has played host to an abundance of sea turtles with illnesses and injuries (750 at this writing). During a tour out back (the motel’s old swimming pool), visitors will meet a multitude of patients, many with puffed-up shells; it’s a response to an injurious blow, like that from a propellor, that doesn’t allow them to dive for their food. Weights are added to aid the turtles in submerging.
Besides the obvious education value provided by this very humble operation, there is the opportunity to “adopt” one of these pitiful creatures. We adopted “Bubble Butt” as a birthday present for our daughter, who was very touched by the gesture. Bubble Butt wins, too, because our adoption fee goes towards his annual upkeep.
This is a working hospital and rescue center so if you plan to visit, be sure to make reservations. There are three scheduled tours a day, and you should plan to spend at least a couple of hours at the hospital. Admission fees are very reasonable.
Wishing you safe and happy travels,