back to marine science center home

Marine Science Center released thousands of rehabbed washbacks

Nearly 3,000 hatchling and washback green sea turtles and loggerhead sea turtles housed at the Marine Science Center were released Friday, October 19, 2007. The turtles were washed in from the rough surf caused by the strong weather system off the Florida coast. The Beach and Turtle Patrols and Washback Watchers have brought turtles in by the bucketful.

The hatchlings were loaded onto two 35-foot Bertram boats and taken 40 miles offshore to the Gulf Stream and weed line for release. (The boats were donated by New Smyrna Beach Anglers Club member John Massey.)

Nearly 650 washback turtles were received at the Marine Science Center Wednesday. The total turtle count as of Tuesday evening was 3,014 turtles over the last six days. More than 5,000 turtles had washed ashore since September 29.

“The highest number of washbacks we’ve ever received is around 600,” said Michelle Bauer, sea turtle rehab specialist, “In 2003, we received about 2,700 hatchlings from cold water upwelling which is a different phenomenon, but the rehab treatment is the same.”

MSC turtle rehabbers logged an unprecedented 1,062 rescued turtles Monday. It was a record for the number of turtles received in one day.

According to Bauer, the rescued sea turtles were primarily green sea turtles and loggerheads. They also have had four Kemps Ridley turtles.

The MSC rehab staff treats each turtle as it arrives: weigh and measure, determine well-being, provides fluids and food. The first batch of rescued sea turtles was released October 12, 2007. The second batch of rescued sea turtles had been received after the October 12 release.

“Most have arrived in relatively good shape,” said Bauer. “Unfortunately, we lost some hatchlings. Some were just too far gone to be saved and some arrived dead. We’ve seen turtles ranging from hatchling to about three to four months old.”

Washback sea turtles are young turtles that have been deposited on the beach in a line of seaweed during or after a storm. Washbacks typically are found during washback season: Aug. 1 – Nov. 31.

If someone finds a turtle on the beach, they should find the nearest beach patrol or turtle patrol officer. There is an after-hours drop-off box for turtles at the Marine Science Center. The box is very safe for the turtles.

The Volusia County Marine Science Center cares for injured sea turtles, freshwater and terrestrial turtles; injured sea birds and non-releasable hawks and owls, wood storks, pelicans, and gulls. There are also aquariums housing fish, rays, eels, coral reef inhabitants, snakes, and other creatures.

Record number of turtles wash ashore, rehabbed at Marine Science Center

Oct. 17, 2007 - Nearly 1,000 turtles washed ashore Tuesday setting a record for washback turtles received at the Marine Science Center. The total turtle count as of Tuesday evening was 2,375 turtles over the last five days. Nearly 4,400 turtles have washed ashore since September 29. The northeasterly winds are expected to continue for the next few days.

“The highest number of washbacks we’ve ever received is around 600,” said Michelle Bauer, sea turtle rehab specialist, “In 2003, we received about 2,700 hatchlings from cold water upwelling which is a different phenomenon but the rehab treatment is the same.”

MSC turtle rehabbers logged an unprecedented 1,062 rescued turtles Monday. It was a record for the number of turtles received in one day.

Staff at the Marine Science Center are busy caring for the rescued washback sea turtles that have been brought to them for care by turtle patrol, beach patrol and the public. Due to northeasterly winds, sea turtles are continuing to wash ashore in Volusia County, according to Bauer.

“We’ve had a lot of calls from the public wondering if these are the same turtles we released last week,” said Bauer. “This is a completely different batch of turtles. The more than 1,600 turtles we released Friday are probably 50 miles offshore.”

The turtles have been rescued from St. Johns, Flagler, Brevard and Volusia counties. A large majority of the turtles have come from Volusia County. The MSC rehab staff treats each turtle as it arrives: weigh and measure, determine well-being, administer fluids and food. MSC rehab staff mince nearly two liters of fish each day and chop romaine lettuce to feed the washbacks.

This batch of hatchlings is expected to be released into the ocean as soon as the seas calm.

Washback sea turtles are young turtles that have been deposited on the beach in a line of seaweed during or after a storm. Washbacks typically are found during sea turtle nesting season: Aug. 1 - Nov. 31.

If someone finds a turtle on the beach, they should find the nearest beach patrol or turtle patrol officer. There is an after-hours drop-off box for turtles at the Marine Science Center. The box is very safe for the turtles.

The Volusia County Marine Science Center cares for injured sea turtles, freshwater and terrestrial turtles; injured sea birds and non-releasable hawks and owls, wood storks, pelicans, and gulls. There are also aquariums housing fish, rays, eels, coral reef inhabitants, snakes, and other creatures.

The Marine Science Center, 100 Lighthouse Drive, Ponce Inlet, is open from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., Tuesday - Saturday; and noon - 4 p.m., Sunday. Admission is $3 for persons 13 and up, $1 for youth 5-12 and free for youth under 5. The center is closed Mondays.