sea turtle being operated on at the marine science center

One of the main missions of the Marine Science Center is sea turtle rehabilitation, and the Marine Science Center complex includes a fully functioning animal hospital. Since opening in 2002, the sea turtle hospital at the Marine Science Center has cared for over 27,000 sea turtles ranging from juvenile to adult size; more than 22,000 sea turtle hatchlings and washbacks; and over 2,400 gopher tortoises, box turtles, freshwater turtles and snakes.

Sea turtles receive full diagnostic exams using state of the art veterinary equipment such as X-rays, ultrasound and endoscopic procedures. Sea turtle rehabilitation specialists carry out surgical procedures and medical treatments and administer medication as prescribed by the Marine Science Center’s staff veterinarian.

Some common threats to sea turtles include becoming entangled or being caught in fishing gear, boat strikes, ingesting foreign objects such as plastic bags and balloons, and weather that causes sudden water temperature staff looking at x-ray on monitor

Guests can overlook eight turtle hospital pools from the Turtle Terrace in front of the main facility. These pools house sick and injured sea turtles, hatchlings and washbacks (recently hatched baby sea turtles that are washed back to shore by rough seas) under rehabilitation. The recovering hatchlings, washbacks and sea turtles will be returned to their natural habitat upon full recovery.

The MSC turtle rehabilitation area also cares for and treats other injured native (non-pet) reptiles. Thousands of freshwater turtles, tortoises, box turtles and even snakes have been treated. These animals are often found struck by vehicles, injured by lawnmowers, or attacked by dogs or other predators.

If you find an injured sea turtle or native reptile, please call the Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission
(FWC) Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).