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Get Shelled: A Tale of Testudine Rehabilitation

Dec 16 '12

One of our new Loggers from up North, Scout, trying to help me scrub tanks earlier this afternoon!

Dec 3 '12

Caleb the Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle

This was the first and only time in half a year that he swam up to me when I had no food for him. It was quite the wonderful way to say goodbye!

Nov 25 '12

Pictured above, a Green Sea Turtle hatchling and Flurry, a juvenile Green Sea Turtle!


I haven’t posted in a while, but two weeks ago I helped release Nueve the Gopher Tortoise. It was my first release. I was able to prepare her for her release, remove her “sticker” name from her carapace, drive her to the release point, and set her down one last time in the wild. It was amazing to see the whole thing come full circle, to see her again in her former and future home, where she will be able to live out the rest of her life without being harmed again. I’m hoping to post photos of that later on this week. I also helped semi-name a Gopher tortoise. I said we should go with another British name, jokingly, after I’d given rise to Camilla after Charles was named, so Pippa joined the flock after Jackie suggested it and I emphatically agreed.

Last week, CM 1229 - a little Green who hadn’t eaten or defecated in over a month, passed away. We also lost Torch, the Loggerhead I fell in love with these past few months. After a sudden decline in his health, I knew it was coming, but it wasn’t easy to get the news all the same. I’m glad he’s no longer hurting, because I could tell he wasn’t well, even to my still largely novice eye.

Today, however, was a fairly normal chilly day. Siesta, a beautiful girl who was my first “real” sea turtle I was able to hold, was tagged for release and she should be sent back this week at some point. I’m happy for her. She is a stunning animal and so full of life. She deserves to head back out to the big blue ocean!

Two of our current Greens - Tabasco and Dipper - aren’t doing so hot, but are trying to eat, so that’s a positive. I held both of them today and was, once again, amazed at the strength they possess even while ill. They’re such hardy animals, such fighters. But when injected or attempting to resist tubing, such small animals almost take me in the strength department and are a tiny fraction of my weight - Dipper weighs maybe two or three pounds, Tabasco only five or six! We have four little Green hatchlings and like their elder counterparts, they are exceedingly strong for being so tiny. They’re also kind of jerks in that they will shamelessly crawl over one another and slap each other out of the way for space or food or in an attempt to instinctively flee.

That’s it for now. In just a few weeks, I’ll have hit six months with the facility. I can’t believe how fast time flies and how fond I’ve grown of my weekends with the turtles. I couldn’t fathom being anywhere else anymore and I hope I can keep it up for quite some time.

Nov 4 '12

Siesta enjoying her lunch this afternoon. I love the way she pushes food out of her way and how she targets the endive first!

Oct 22 '12
The little bite marks are like “Flurry wuz here” graffiti.

The little bite marks are like “Flurry wuz here” graffiti.

Oct 21 '12
Siesta, a juvenile Green Sea Turtle eating some of her lunch - delicious romaine lettuce!In other volunteering news, the Gopher Tortoise I was hoping to be able to release, Mufasa, was released Friday. Exciting for him, but a bit sad for me since I’d hoped to be the one to do it since he was so near me. Oh well!I DID however, get to name my very first Gopher Tortoise today! We had two and Jackie named the male Charles. So, immediately, Camilla came to mind. And if you don’t get it, brush up on your English royalty. So, there, I’ve named my first animal at the facility!Also, we have a bunch of washbacks now plus a few hatchlings. The Green from last week is the only non-Loggerhead. I also found two of the little Logger washbacks without a pulse when I cleaned this afternoon. Sad, but that’s life, unfortunately. When they’re washbacks, they usually are injured or lacking in some way or another.Lastly, I was able to hold Shakira for her fluids and tubing this afternoon. And she nearly pooped on me. Ah, the life of someone working with animals. :]

Siesta, a juvenile Green Sea Turtle eating some of her lunch - delicious romaine lettuce!

In other volunteering news, the Gopher Tortoise I was hoping to be able to release, Mufasa, was released Friday. Exciting for him, but a bit sad for me since I’d hoped to be the one to do it since he was so near me. Oh well!

I DID however, get to name my very first Gopher Tortoise today! We had two and Jackie named the male Charles. So, immediately, Camilla came to mind. And if you don’t get it, brush up on your English royalty. So, there, I’ve named my first animal at the facility!

Also, we have a bunch of washbacks now plus a few hatchlings. The Green from last week is the only non-Loggerhead. I also found two of the little Logger washbacks without a pulse when I cleaned this afternoon. Sad, but that’s life, unfortunately. When they’re washbacks, they usually are injured or lacking in some way or another.

Lastly, I was able to hold Shakira for her fluids and tubing this afternoon. And she nearly pooped on me. Ah, the life of someone working with animals. :]

Oct 16 '12
Our first Green Sea Turtle! This little guy is a washback, as he came in this past week in light of the storm brewing out in the Atlantic and all the sargassum washing ashore with baby turtles!
This guy or gal is injured, you can see in his right side the indentation, but odds are that won’t stop him from being released in due course!

Our first Green Sea Turtle! This little guy is a washback, as he came in this past week in light of the storm brewing out in the Atlantic and all the sargassum washing ashore with baby turtles!

This guy or gal is injured, you can see in his right side the indentation, but odds are that won’t stop him from being released in due course!

Oct 8 '12
Another from yesterday!

The difference between washback and hatchling - quite a BIG difference at that! A washback has made it out to sea and has washed ashore. Hatchlings, on the other hand, never made it out. With care and a boat ride, they’ll make it back to the big ol’ blue again!

If you’re having trouble figuring out which is which, the washback is the big guy!

Another from yesterday!

The difference between washback and hatchling - quite a BIG difference at that! A washback has made it out to sea and has washed ashore. Hatchlings, on the other hand, never made it out. With care and a boat ride, they’ll make it back to the big ol’ blue again!

If you’re having trouble figuring out which is which, the washback is the big guy!

Oct 7 '12
Raising the bar, hatchling style!

Raising the bar, hatchling style!

Sep 30 '12
I’ll try to update this again, but maybe not weekly and in not as great detail, but here I’ll try to summarize the last multiple weeks as best as possible.In the past few months, I’ve definitely gotten to do much more. Reading through my old posts is like reading my old intern blog from the beginning. It seems I did so little in comparison to what I do now and I’m still slowly getting given new duties over time.We’ve had lots of testudines in and out, both Sea Turtles and Gopher Tortoises as well as the odd Box Turtle or two. For a while, it seemed like there were a lot of animals that weren’t able to make it and it felt like most newcomers either passed away naturally or were Euthanized, but as of the past month, I can name only two who were lost, to my knowledge - a little Green named Mabel and a Gopher named Scar (as in, Lion King!), both of which didn’t make it.We currently have one Loggerhead around who came at the start of the Olympics and is appropriately named Torch because of his arrival period, but had two prior. One was named Lionel and he lasted about two weeks before passing away; he was the first incoming Sea Turtle I got to measure and, in doing so, touch. Measurements I made were notch to tip, notch to notch, and the widest part of his shell from side to side. We had a third who was never named who passed away almost immediately due to many complications, the most notable being the ingestion of monofilament (aka, fishing) line. All three of the Loggerheads had ingested it, but Torch is still pulling through.We’ve had our hatchlings come and go. Whenever a hatchling passes, we put it in in a plastic bag sorted by month in a freezer for a census count. it is a little gruesome to think about, but not so bad because they passed naturally and that’s just life. So far, all we’ve had are Loggerhead babies, but I’m still rooting for a Green to come in before the season is over. We have about a month left, so we’ll see. We DID have an absolutely adorable Leucistic hatchling who defied the odds and survived with us for about three weeks before getting the chance to be released with numerous other hatchlings into the ocean. Due to its coloration - white, but not albinistic, since its eyes were black and not red - its odds of survival are low, but I would much rather it make it back to the ocean and become food or naturally die out there than at our facility. Of the photos I originally posted with the two babies I had unofficially (that is to say, mentally) named Thor and Loki, Thor passed, but Loki made it. In fact, Loki was a BEAST when he left, having spent about two months with us and I think he will DEFINITELY make it out in the ocean again!We also had our first washback two weeks ago. A washback differs by size and also in the sense that washbacks are just that, babies that hatched and made it to the ocean, only they’ve come back in for one reason or another. We usually keep them around and fatten them up like the hatchlings and wait until we can get them on a boat to be dropped out into the ocean again.
I was also cleared about a month ago to start prepping tubes for fluids, food, and vitamins, and I can also administer any non-medicated food to the Gophers alone. Tubing involves cutting off the E.G. tube with the hemostats, pulling out the syringe that acts as a stopper to keep anything from getting into the tube, place the syringe containing food or fluids into the mouth of the tube, release the hemostats, administer the food or fluids, re-clasp the hemostats, pull out the syringe and put the “plug” syringe back in, then release the hemostats. It sounds complicated and I admit, I made a few mistakes at the start, but now it’s pretty easy. I was supervised initially, but now I’m told to draw up tubes and administer them myself. Some of the Gophers put up quite the fight and they either run away or don’t want to sit neatly on your leg if you hold them up. I also have been able to help in tubing Torch. One time, I got to hold him up, the second time, I was able to administer his fluids. As I’ve developed quite the soft spot for him, it was a thrill!
And, most recently, I’ve been able to start holding some of the Green Sea Turtles while they’re either given fluids or tubed through their throats. It was explained to me that long-term tubed turtles get the E.G. tubes, but for those who it is a temporary thing, it’s much easier to tube them down their throats. Last weekend, I held our littlest green, a tiny little thing named Dipper. They call her Little Dipper as a nickname and it fits. I held her while she was tubed. She was also the first turtle I grabbed by myself. After snapping up un-taped Gators at work, a little Green was no problem and they praised me for it! Today, I was able to hold Siesta, a Green who we think has Papilloma (like Herpes in humans) while she was given his fluid injection. Allie picked him up, since some of them can be fighters and it was only my second time, but he was pretty fantastic and easily transferred to me while I had my thumb and pointer around each front flipper, holding his back end to my stomach, supporting him with my hands and wrists. After I had him, Allie had to go get something from the main turtle area (Siesta is in Quarantine due to the believed Papilloma) and I was just standing there, holding a little Green Sea Turtle and unable to believe that this was my life. I love it!They’re even considering letting me release Mufasa when his time comes since I live close to where he was injured and will need to be released. He’s doing much better since he came in, so I’m excited that the possibility might be real!Lastly, a little sidenote that I am now the singular Sunday afternoon volunteer now. The intern left (and she is missed!), one woman, Heather, changed to Saturdays for her job, and one we had one day never came back. So now it’s just Allie, Jackie, and myself to get everything done. It’s a lot of work, but there is always something to do and whenever there’s something a bit more hands-on involved (like tubing or helping holding turtles and their ilk), they often ask if I would like to help. Unlike my internship, where I had three other interns vying for the “fun stuff,” it’s now one of the three of us and I’m a little spoiled that way. Cradling a sea turtle or handling hatchlings makes it completely worth all the dirty, tiring work. I wouldn’t be anywhere else on Sundays, I just couldn’t imagine it at this moment in time and it’s only been about four months!As of writing this, our animals are as follows: Sea Turtles - Sydney (G), Torch (L), Caleb (KR), (Little) Dipper (G), Shakira (G), Flurry (G), and Siesta (G). Babies - One washback, three hatchlings - all Loggerheads. Gophers - Susie, Sienna, Orly, Oscar, Calzone, Winkie, Mufasa, Nueve, and I feel like I’m forgetting one or two. We have a bunch! Boxes - Kringle the resident and a little, nameless Box that will be released tomorrow.

I’ll try to update this again, but maybe not weekly and in not as great detail, but here I’ll try to summarize the last multiple weeks as best as possible.

In the past few months, I’ve definitely gotten to do much more. Reading through my old posts is like reading my old intern blog from the beginning. It seems I did so little in comparison to what I do now and I’m still slowly getting given new duties over time.

We’ve had lots of testudines in and out, both Sea Turtles and Gopher Tortoises as well as the odd Box Turtle or two. For a while, it seemed like there were a lot of animals that weren’t able to make it and it felt like most newcomers either passed away naturally or were Euthanized, but as of the past month, I can name only two who were lost, to my knowledge - a little Green named Mabel and a Gopher named Scar (as in, Lion King!), both of which didn’t make it.

We currently have one Loggerhead around who came at the start of the Olympics and is appropriately named Torch because of his arrival period, but had two prior. One was named Lionel and he lasted about two weeks before passing away; he was the first incoming Sea Turtle I got to measure and, in doing so, touch. Measurements I made were notch to tip, notch to notch, and the widest part of his shell from side to side. We had a third who was never named who passed away almost immediately due to many complications, the most notable being the ingestion of monofilament (aka, fishing) line. All three of the Loggerheads had ingested it, but Torch is still pulling through.


We’ve had our hatchlings come and go. Whenever a hatchling passes, we put it in in a plastic bag sorted by month in a freezer for a census count. it is a little gruesome to think about, but not so bad because they passed naturally and that’s just life. So far, all we’ve had are Loggerhead babies, but I’m still rooting for a Green to come in before the season is over. We have about a month left, so we’ll see. We DID have an absolutely adorable Leucistic hatchling who defied the odds and survived with us for about three weeks before getting the chance to be released with numerous other hatchlings into the ocean. Due to its coloration - white, but not albinistic, since its eyes were black and not red - its odds of survival are low, but I would much rather it make it back to the ocean and become food or naturally die out there than at our facility. Of the photos I originally posted with the two babies I had unofficially (that is to say, mentally) named Thor and Loki, Thor passed, but Loki made it. In fact, Loki was a BEAST when he left, having spent about two months with us and I think he will DEFINITELY make it out in the ocean again!

We also had our first washback two weeks ago. A washback differs by size and also in the sense that washbacks are just that, babies that hatched and made it to the ocean, only they’ve come back in for one reason or another. We usually keep them around and fatten them up like the hatchlings and wait until we can get them on a boat to be dropped out into the ocean again.

I was also cleared about a month ago to start prepping tubes for fluids, food, and vitamins, and I can also administer any non-medicated food to the Gophers alone. Tubing involves cutting off the E.G. tube with the hemostats, pulling out the syringe that acts as a stopper to keep anything from getting into the tube, place the syringe containing food or fluids into the mouth of the tube, release the hemostats, administer the food or fluids, re-clasp the hemostats, pull out the syringe and put the “plug” syringe back in, then release the hemostats. It sounds complicated and I admit, I made a few mistakes at the start, but now it’s pretty easy. I was supervised initially, but now I’m told to draw up tubes and administer them myself. Some of the Gophers put up quite the fight and they either run away or don’t want to sit neatly on your leg if you hold them up. I also have been able to help in tubing Torch. One time, I got to hold him up, the second time, I was able to administer his fluids. As I’ve developed quite the soft spot for him, it was a thrill!

And, most recently, I’ve been able to start holding some of the Green Sea Turtles while they’re either given fluids or tubed through their throats. It was explained to me that long-term tubed turtles get the E.G. tubes, but for those who it is a temporary thing, it’s much easier to tube them down their throats. Last weekend, I held our littlest green, a tiny little thing named Dipper. They call her Little Dipper as a nickname and it fits. I held her while she was tubed. She was also the first turtle I grabbed by myself. After snapping up un-taped Gators at work, a little Green was no problem and they praised me for it! Today, I was able to hold Siesta, a Green who we think has Papilloma (like Herpes in humans) while she was given his fluid injection. Allie picked him up, since some of them can be fighters and it was only my second time, but he was pretty fantastic and easily transferred to me while I had my thumb and pointer around each front flipper, holding his back end to my stomach, supporting him with my hands and wrists. After I had him, Allie had to go get something from the main turtle area (Siesta is in Quarantine due to the believed Papilloma) and I was just standing there, holding a little Green Sea Turtle and unable to believe that this was my life. I love it!

They’re even considering letting me release Mufasa when his time comes since I live close to where he was injured and will need to be released. He’s doing much better since he came in, so I’m excited that the possibility might be real!

Lastly, a little sidenote that I am now the singular Sunday afternoon volunteer now. The intern left (and she is missed!), one woman, Heather, changed to Saturdays for her job, and one we had one day never came back. So now it’s just Allie, Jackie, and myself to get everything done. It’s a lot of work, but there is always something to do and whenever there’s something a bit more hands-on involved (like tubing or helping holding turtles and their ilk), they often ask if I would like to help. Unlike my internship, where I had three other interns vying for the “fun stuff,” it’s now one of the three of us and I’m a little spoiled that way. Cradling a sea turtle or handling hatchlings makes it completely worth all the dirty, tiring work. I wouldn’t be anywhere else on Sundays, I just couldn’t imagine it at this moment in time and it’s only been about four months!

As of writing this, our animals are as follows: Sea Turtles - Sydney (G), Torch (L), Caleb (KR), (Little) Dipper (G), Shakira (G), Flurry (G), and Siesta (G). Babies - One washback, three hatchlings - all Loggerheads. Gophers - Susie, Sienna, Orly, Oscar, Calzone, Winkie, Mufasa, Nueve, and I feel like I’m forgetting one or two. We have a bunch! Boxes - Kringle the resident and a little, nameless Box that will be released tomorrow.

Sep 14 '12

I’m awful at updating this… is anyone still actually reading?

I’m wondering if it’s worth keeping this going. Of my four followers, is anyone genuinely interested in reading? There’s exciting stuff going down, but I’m not sure if I want to keep writing something that is ignored!

2 notes Tags: TBD
Aug 12 '12
I’ve been neglecting updating this what with our Summer season winding down at work keeping me busy and exhausted. More or less, what I recall of this day was the usual, feeding turtles, feeding the baby we have pictured above and whatnot, and putting the tortoises away. We had two new tortoises as of this day - Mufasa and Scar. Lox and Vino the Gopher Tortoises were released as well as Sonya the Box Turtle. So here, have  bunch of photos of Loki the Loggerhead Hatchling (again, not a real name, but my own nickname because I like having them rather than calling it “the hatchling”). The one from last week I dubbed Thor had passed away, as they often do, sadly. Oh, and one of little Tag the Box Turtle hiding under his mat.



The release board from last week!

I’ve been neglecting updating this what with our Summer season winding down at work keeping me busy and exhausted. More or less, what I recall of this day was the usual, feeding turtles, feeding the baby we have pictured above and whatnot, and putting the tortoises away. We had two new tortoises as of this day - Mufasa and Scar. Lox and Vino the Gopher Tortoises were released as well as Sonya the Box Turtle. So here, have  bunch of photos of Loki the Loggerhead Hatchling (again, not a real name, but my own nickname because I like having them rather than calling it “the hatchling”). The one from last week I dubbed Thor had passed away, as they often do, sadly. Oh, and one of little Tag the Box Turtle hiding under his mat.


The release board from last week!

Jul 22 '12

Indy, a Juvenile Green Sea Turtle with her lunch!

Before I forget about today, I want to write about it! Bullet pointing things again, because, well, I can. Also, PHOTOS!
Starting with the sad stuff, I found out via e-mail that Stewart had been euthanized on Friday. As sad as it was, his situation had been decreasing steadily for weeks and he’d stopped eating. His quality of life was, at it always is in instances of euthanasia, incredibly poor. As was Derby’s, who I found we also let go.
In happier news, however, we had three new acquisitions in the past week. The first is a new, HUGE Gopher Tortoise named Lox. He’s a digger and he and Vino kept digging to one another as they were successful a few times and hung out together. Before Lox, Vino never showed any interest in digging or going anywhere. Now, all they want is to be together. Although it makes a MESS - all of Lox’s food and water were COVERED in a thick (an inch or more!) dirt layer - it’s cute. The other two newcomers were LOGGERHEAD HATCHLINGS!!!! More on them in a moment, however.
Lindsey the intern, Allie, Jackie, and I all worked on fixing a new display box and removing an old aquarium display about coral reefs that was outdated by half a decade. In turn, we added photos and information on some sea turtles who were successfully released into the ocean! It took an hour, but was definitely worth it in the process!
I was able to feed the sea turtles their lettuce and veggies. Shakira, as always, never touched them - she seems to do it overnight - but Flurry and Indy gobbled them right up. I remarked upon it to Jackie when I returned upstairs, mostly about how voracious Indy was and was told to go feed her two more pieces of romaine and to change it on her pool’s name/diet sign. When I gave them to her, she dug right into them too! A healthy appetite is always a good sign!
I helped Allie in - and excuse me as I spaz here for a moment, but - HOLDING THE LOGGERHEAD HATCHLINGS WHILE SHE CLEANED OUT THEIR POOL!!! I hadn’t thought I’d do anything other than help clean, but she had me hold me hands out and I thought that she’d be handing me some sargassum or other odd bits of trash, but she placed a little hatchling in each hand and I nearly DIED, I tell you. Nothing is cuter than something only slightly bigger than your average ice tray produced ice cube.
After holding them once, I was able to place them back in myself. Then I was able to feed them. They get minced fish and a special gel cube that’s got a bit of everything in it as well as sargassum. But, just as I was feeding them, Allie came back down saying they’d decided to switch pools for the little ones, so I scooped up the food I’d tossed in as best I could and was then asked to PICK UP AND HOLD - !!! - THE HATCHLINGS BY MYSELF AND HOLD THEM WHILE ALLIE CHANGED THE POOL. If I about died before, I think I resurrected myself and died again. Overall, I held them for about ten minutes between the two holdings, meanwhile one tried to flail out of my hand, the other only wiggling slightly.
If I hadn’t been riding on a high before, when I got back up to the office, I was told to feed Caleb. For the first time, by myself, unsupervised. But, I knew the drill; I’d witnessed him fed a few times, so I was okay. I tossed the first piece close to him to get his attention, then, when I had it, tossed the remaining three pieces around the pool and booked it out of there. We’re doing our best not to imprint upon him the correlation between food and humans.
Held Lox while he received his fluid injection. He’s a HUGE boy and didn’t even fight it one bit. However, when I put him back inside for the night, he kept trying to climb the side wall and, at one point, had to be flipped over as he rolled himself onto his back. Even Vino tried to get to him at this point, scratching half-heartedly at the wall between himself and Lox. Silly boys. Who knew tortoises could be BFFs?
Put all the tortoises away by myself! Winkie, Buck (who is clear to go outside now and, hopefully soon, will be able to be released!), Nueve, Calzone, Vino, and, of course, new boy Lox! I accidentally put Sonya the Box inside, but apparently she’s outside all the time now, which is where she’d rather be anyway!
Lastly, I was able to bring Kringle downstairs and outside for the night (and Monday!) and tuck him in as it were.
I was able to sneak into the gift shop a few minutes before it closed and bought a few things since we have 25% off right now. I bought a honu necklace that is the EXACT outline of a tattoo I want to get some day, another necklace that came with a mussel that contained a pearl (mine, an ovalish white pearl) that you put inside the pendant of a turtle, a “peace, love, turtles” sticker, and a hippie-ish “Good Karma” turtle notepad that is adorable. To boot, while I was in there, one of the employees who made the other Turtle staff and intern earrings and I asked about her making me a pair and the cost and she gave me a blue pair for free! They’re adorable!
Gopher Tortoise board telling us who goes where and when.
Messy, messy Lox!
Lox again, closer this time, and still a mess!
Indy chasing her food under her cover.
Flurry trying to get to her romaine leaf!
Flurry, successful!
Indy, using her flippers to help rip at her newfound bonus romaine.
Indy, eating her new romaine!
Indy and her sign!
Lox, trying to escape!
Lox, using both legs this time!
Kringle at the end of the day, ready to go outside!
The Loggerhead hatchlings. I mentally nicknamed them Loki and Thor, though they won’t be around long enough to get true names. I blame Tumblr entirely for their mental nicknames, by the by! For a size comparison’s sake… the brown chunk floating in the middle? It’s a gel cube molded by your average ice cube tray. They’re an ice cube with legs and a head, basically.
Unofficially “Thor” the little Loggerhead hatchling!

Indy, a Juvenile Green Sea Turtle with her lunch!

Before I forget about today, I want to write about it! Bullet pointing things again, because, well, I can. Also, PHOTOS!

  • Starting with the sad stuff, I found out via e-mail that Stewart had been euthanized on Friday. As sad as it was, his situation had been decreasing steadily for weeks and he’d stopped eating. His quality of life was, at it always is in instances of euthanasia, incredibly poor. As was Derby’s, who I found we also let go.
  • In happier news, however, we had three new acquisitions in the past week. The first is a new, HUGE Gopher Tortoise named Lox. He’s a digger and he and Vino kept digging to one another as they were successful a few times and hung out together. Before Lox, Vino never showed any interest in digging or going anywhere. Now, all they want is to be together. Although it makes a MESS - all of Lox’s food and water were COVERED in a thick (an inch or more!) dirt layer - it’s cute. The other two newcomers were LOGGERHEAD HATCHLINGS!!!! More on them in a moment, however.
  • Lindsey the intern, Allie, Jackie, and I all worked on fixing a new display box and removing an old aquarium display about coral reefs that was outdated by half a decade. In turn, we added photos and information on some sea turtles who were successfully released into the ocean! It took an hour, but was definitely worth it in the process!
  • I was able to feed the sea turtles their lettuce and veggies. Shakira, as always, never touched them - she seems to do it overnight - but Flurry and Indy gobbled them right up. I remarked upon it to Jackie when I returned upstairs, mostly about how voracious Indy was and was told to go feed her two more pieces of romaine and to change it on her pool’s name/diet sign. When I gave them to her, she dug right into them too! A healthy appetite is always a good sign!
  • I helped Allie in - and excuse me as I spaz here for a moment, but - HOLDING THE LOGGERHEAD HATCHLINGS WHILE SHE CLEANED OUT THEIR POOL!!! I hadn’t thought I’d do anything other than help clean, but she had me hold me hands out and I thought that she’d be handing me some sargassum or other odd bits of trash, but she placed a little hatchling in each hand and I nearly DIED, I tell you. Nothing is cuter than something only slightly bigger than your average ice tray produced ice cube.
  • After holding them once, I was able to place them back in myself. Then I was able to feed them. They get minced fish and a special gel cube that’s got a bit of everything in it as well as sargassum. But, just as I was feeding them, Allie came back down saying they’d decided to switch pools for the little ones, so I scooped up the food I’d tossed in as best I could and was then asked to PICK UP AND HOLD - !!! - THE HATCHLINGS BY MYSELF AND HOLD THEM WHILE ALLIE CHANGED THE POOL. If I about died before, I think I resurrected myself and died again. Overall, I held them for about ten minutes between the two holdings, meanwhile one tried to flail out of my hand, the other only wiggling slightly.
  • If I hadn’t been riding on a high before, when I got back up to the office, I was told to feed Caleb. For the first time, by myself, unsupervised. But, I knew the drill; I’d witnessed him fed a few times, so I was okay. I tossed the first piece close to him to get his attention, then, when I had it, tossed the remaining three pieces around the pool and booked it out of there. We’re doing our best not to imprint upon him the correlation between food and humans.
  • Held Lox while he received his fluid injection. He’s a HUGE boy and didn’t even fight it one bit. However, when I put him back inside for the night, he kept trying to climb the side wall and, at one point, had to be flipped over as he rolled himself onto his back. Even Vino tried to get to him at this point, scratching half-heartedly at the wall between himself and Lox. Silly boys. Who knew tortoises could be BFFs?
  • Put all the tortoises away by myself! Winkie, Buck (who is clear to go outside now and, hopefully soon, will be able to be released!), Nueve, Calzone, Vino, and, of course, new boy Lox! I accidentally put Sonya the Box inside, but apparently she’s outside all the time now, which is where she’d rather be anyway!
  • Lastly, I was able to bring Kringle downstairs and outside for the night (and Monday!) and tuck him in as it were.
  • I was able to sneak into the gift shop a few minutes before it closed and bought a few things since we have 25% off right now. I bought a honu necklace that is the EXACT outline of a tattoo I want to get some day, another necklace that came with a mussel that contained a pearl (mine, an ovalish white pearl) that you put inside the pendant of a turtle, a “peace, love, turtles” sticker, and a hippie-ish “Good Karma” turtle notepad that is adorable. To boot, while I was in there, one of the employees who made the other Turtle staff and intern earrings and I asked about her making me a pair and the cost and she gave me a blue pair for free! They’re adorable!


Gopher Tortoise board telling us who goes where and when.


Messy, messy Lox!


Lox again, closer this time, and still a mess!


Indy chasing her food under her cover.


Flurry trying to get to her romaine leaf!


Flurry, successful!


Indy, using her flippers to help rip at her newfound bonus romaine.


Indy, eating her new romaine!


Indy and her sign!


Lox, trying to escape!


Lox, using both legs this time!


Kringle at the end of the day, ready to go outside!


The Loggerhead hatchlings. I mentally nicknamed them Loki and Thor, though they won’t be around long enough to get true names. I blame Tumblr entirely for their mental nicknames, by the by! For a size comparison’s sake… the brown chunk floating in the middle? It’s a gel cube molded by your average ice cube tray. They’re an ice cube with legs and a head, basically.


Unofficially “Thor” the little Loggerhead hatchling!

Jul 21 '12
I’m debating whether or not I want to keep writing in great detail what I do, given a lot of it is repetitive cleaning and simply write the highlights. Given it’s been nearly a full week since volunteering, a full near 50 hour work week at that, I am going to post bulleted highlights this time around and photos! Always photos! Unfortunately, given that some people have reblogged simply for the photo and removed all else, I’ll be watermarking the main “photo” at the top, which I am trying to keep as an instagram-ed photo.Animal Changes:As assumed, Dakota had to be euthanized. Her quality of life was poor, too poor for the staff to let her continue on worsening at the rate she had been progressing. Although sad, it was the kind thing to do for her. We also had 3-4 hatchlings, only one of which made it back out to the ocean. It was explained to me that the hatchlings are usually those who have problems from the start and all we can really do for them is feed them and get them the nutrition they need and get them a ride out to the deep ocean.
I was able to help hold Tag, the little Box that came in on my first day volunteering, while his bandage was changed. He had a really bad dog bite that is, so they say, healing well. I hadn’t seen it initially, but even at this state, it looks pretty nasty. There is a bunch of broken bones and missing shell. I love dogs and I know the one that bit him was playing, but in this instance, I hate the owners more than anything else. The turtle is the size of my hand and the dog, going from the bite, was BIG. Just a tip, if your dog has a turtle, TAKE IT AWAY and spare the animal’s life. The owners did bring the animal in, so at least they realized the severity of his wound. I do hope Tag makes it. He’s such a feisty little guy with so much spunk. He digs the carpet in his enclosure up and hides under it. I need to get a photo of it some day. Either way, it was a surprisingly lengthy procedure, but given the severity of his injuries and his tiny size which required a decided delicacy provided by Allie, totally understandable. I was just over the moon that the first true procedure I was able to help with was with little Tag.
I was able to hold Buck the Gopher for yet another small procedure, while he received his fluids that help keep him hydrated. I’m always amazed with just how calm such relatively strong animals are during the injection. They thrash a bit, but overall, definitely calmer than you’d assume. Certainly more so than I would be during a shot!
I walked Buck for about twenty minute span. Or, more accurately, he hauled himself into a sunny patch of grass, mouthed at some stuff, then fell asleep and napped for the remainder of our time outside. His patch of grass is far from the usual Gopher walking area as he as a respiratory infection they’re still treating and they don’t want the others to catch. I also had to wear gloves while handling him as to not transmit to the rest.
I put away the majority of the Gophers, with Lindsey bringing the last inside!
Caleb the Kemp’s Ridley sleeping at the bottom of his pool. Horrible photo, but I’ll get a better one at some other point.Tag post-procedure!
Buck, first walking, then clearly napping!
Indy the Juvenile Green. She’s so quick that getting a good photo is almost impossible!
Being trusted with a key while volunteering makes me feel pretty special, I won’t lie. :)

I’m debating whether or not I want to keep writing in great detail what I do, given a lot of it is repetitive cleaning and simply write the highlights. Given it’s been nearly a full week since volunteering, a full near 50 hour work week at that, I am going to post bulleted highlights this time around and photos! Always photos! Unfortunately, given that some people have reblogged simply for the photo and removed all else, I’ll be watermarking the main “photo” at the top, which I am trying to keep as an instagram-ed photo.

Animal Changes:As assumed, Dakota had to be euthanized. Her quality of life was poor, too poor for the staff to let her continue on worsening at the rate she had been progressing. Although sad, it was the kind thing to do for her. We also had 3-4 hatchlings, only one of which made it back out to the ocean. It was explained to me that the hatchlings are usually those who have problems from the start and all we can really do for them is feed them and get them the nutrition they need and get them a ride out to the deep ocean.

  • I was able to help hold Tag, the little Box that came in on my first day volunteering, while his bandage was changed. He had a really bad dog bite that is, so they say, healing well. I hadn’t seen it initially, but even at this state, it looks pretty nasty. There is a bunch of broken bones and missing shell. I love dogs and I know the one that bit him was playing, but in this instance, I hate the owners more than anything else. The turtle is the size of my hand and the dog, going from the bite, was BIG. Just a tip, if your dog has a turtle, TAKE IT AWAY and spare the animal’s life. The owners did bring the animal in, so at least they realized the severity of his wound. I do hope Tag makes it. He’s such a feisty little guy with so much spunk. He digs the carpet in his enclosure up and hides under it. I need to get a photo of it some day. Either way, it was a surprisingly lengthy procedure, but given the severity of his injuries and his tiny size which required a decided delicacy provided by Allie, totally understandable. I was just over the moon that the first true procedure I was able to help with was with little Tag.
  • I was able to hold Buck the Gopher for yet another small procedure, while he received his fluids that help keep him hydrated. I’m always amazed with just how calm such relatively strong animals are during the injection. They thrash a bit, but overall, definitely calmer than you’d assume. Certainly more so than I would be during a shot!
  • I walked Buck for about twenty minute span. Or, more accurately, he hauled himself into a sunny patch of grass, mouthed at some stuff, then fell asleep and napped for the remainder of our time outside. His patch of grass is far from the usual Gopher walking area as he as a respiratory infection they’re still treating and they don’t want the others to catch. I also had to wear gloves while handling him as to not transmit to the rest.
  • I put away the majority of the Gophers, with Lindsey bringing the last inside!


Caleb the Kemp’s Ridley sleeping at the bottom of his pool. Horrible photo, but I’ll get a better one at some other point.


Tag post-procedure!




Buck, first walking, then clearly napping!


Indy the Juvenile Green. She’s so quick that getting a good photo is almost impossible!


Being trusted with a key while volunteering makes me feel pretty special, I won’t lie. :)

Jul 9 '12

Stewart, a juvenile Green who is non-releasable due to buoyancy issues.

Today I arrived at lunchtime for staff, as always, and did poop logs (and netted some out) and some laundry while they ate and chatted a little. I found that on the Fourth of July, we acquired a juvenile Green Sea Turtle and named Indy. She was found floating, so they’re still running diagnostics on her to figure out just what’s wrong since she otherwise appears fairly healthy. We also released Mama and Skip. And I think I somehow got confused in my last post, for the two testudines inside are both Gopher Tortoises, Derby and Buck.After lunch,I was able to assist in Aquarium in a touch tank feeding. I tossed out or “broadcast” krill, clams, and pieces of fish and I think squid to the stingrays, fish, and crabs living in the pool. I also watched as Amanda hand fed some clams to the rays and then used a long pole to feed the guitarfish. And then I did dishes, hooray!Then, one of the part-timers, Allie, and I went on a “Spring” cleaning rampage to get rid of a lot of the dust and then I headed down to Sea Turtle to help scrub tanks. I cleaned three of A System’s pools where Shakira, Indy, and Stewart are all housed (only I cleaned one of the empties while the other part-timer, Amanda, cleaned Stewart’s pool) and then D System’s pool where Caleb is housed. It’s a huge pool and took some time to clean and throughout, Caleb kept coming over to check on what I was doing. I’m not sure if he wanted it gone and was trying to be threatening - and failing to do so - or genuinely curious, but it was entertaining since the other turtles swim away or ignore it. Just after the others went inside and I was finishing up, I noticed Indy had pooped and reported it to Jackie, the second-in-command and my “boss” on my volunteer days. She was pleased to hear it since they’d been waiting for it. After she checked on it, seeing it to be huge, solid, and otherwise healthy in appearance, I was free to dispose of it, so I did.I have a feeling I’ll be mentioning poop a lot on this blog, but in the animal world, poop is a good thing and nothing to bat your lashes at. As we say at the zoo, a pooping animal is one that is healthy. If one has never experienced an animal with colic, you don’t understand the joy of seeing an animal defecate! So, sorry if anyone is grossed out reading this. I’ll give you a hint - don’t get into the animal field or own an animal. Poop happens and it’s a good thing!After cleaning, it was time to start picking up Gopher Tortoise food and I went down to help collect it and clean dishes, but Amanda asked me to watch Dakota who she was taking for a “walk.” When they go for walks, it’s sometimes more like a sit and babysit sort of deal. Dakota is housed indoors right now at all times, save for her walks, as her wound is too big and could risk infection if she’s outside all day. She also does not use her back legs, which makes it hard for her to move. They’re not certain if she’ll regain the use of them or not, which may weigh upon the choice they may have to make for her if she doesn’t. For a tortoise with no use of their back legs, the survival rate isn’t sufficient and they suffer with every movement. Most just sort of sit there or, in Dakota’s case, eat a little, then fall asleep in the sunshine.


Dakota the Gopher Tortoise napping!



Nueve is so energetic she tries to climb the walls sometimes like she’s Spider-nueve!

Either way, I watched her for, oh, an hour, since I wasn’t told otherwise. Somewhere in the midst of it, Amanda came up and asked me to hold Calzone, whom she had just taken in for bandaging, so he could get his fluid injection. He did well and for where the shot is given - at the crook of “shoulder” and neck on a tortoise, whatever it’s called. - I’m amazed they don’t squirm so much. Then I went back to watching Dakota. At the end of the hourish I was out there, Amanda popped her head out and was amazed I was still out there, feeling awful that she had abandoned me! So, I was told to put to put Dakota back inside and head into the air conditioning myself.


Calzone, post-injection.

I cooled off and chugged a Gatorade while listening to the others talk, then wandered about cleaning more here and there before being asked to put the Gopher Tortoises away. For the first time! All by myself! So I brought Winkie, Vino, Calzone, and Nueve in while Lindsey cleaned the water dishes. Once they were all away, I was asked to give Stewart and Flurry a few more pieces of romaine since they’d eaten all theirs up already and both attacked them immediately. Upon returning, Jackie asked me to feed Toby, the Pine Snake.I knew it would have to happen eventually, given the nature of the beast, but I had to handle dead mice. He is fed frozen-thawed mice, or mice that are pre-killed, frozen, and thawed out for an animal, just as you may buy frozen burgers or chicken at the grocery store. You’re welcome for that comparison. I’d always been a bit squeamish given what it is, but I just sucked it up today and went for it. Not so bad, surprisingly! After arranging them on a tray, I went in to feed Toby who definitely knew they were there, but didn’t eat them. Too many people in the area where he is housed stresses him out too much to eat. Unfortunately, there were a bunch of people and though he went within an inch of them, staring at them, and flicking his tongue like mad, he never actually ate them. The other downside of a bunch of people was that I got stuck talking for 10-15 minutes about Pine Snakes. It’s a good thing we have ours at the zoo, so I know my stuff about them. Still, Allie came to check on me and get Kringle, the Box turtle housed next to Toby, and I felt bad, even though I am sure they’d rather me not brush guests off. So I excused myself, finished my check list for the two animals and headed back into the office to finish up any miscellaneous little tasks.Jackie came in to announce that, and I quote, “Caleb’s butt exploded” and I said I’d go clean it, so I did. Man, she wasn’t kidding! He’d made a mess and it was all over the majority of his pool. As he had earlier with the scrubbers, he was also either bothered or curious, and kept coming to check me and the net out. After I was done, everything was pretty much done and after chatting for a little while, the day was over. As Lindsey and I walked out together, we saw a dead bird on the ground and reported it. Weird way to end a day, but it was a pretty awesome one again and I already am looking forward to my next shift!

Stewart, a juvenile Green who is non-releasable due to buoyancy issues.

Today I arrived at lunchtime for staff, as always, and did poop logs (and netted some out) and some laundry while they ate and chatted a little. I found that on the Fourth of July, we acquired a juvenile Green Sea Turtle and named Indy. She was found floating, so they’re still running diagnostics on her to figure out just what’s wrong since she otherwise appears fairly healthy. We also released Mama and Skip. And I think I somehow got confused in my last post, for the two testudines inside are both Gopher Tortoises, Derby and Buck.

After lunch,I was able to assist in Aquarium in a touch tank feeding. I tossed out or “broadcast” krill, clams, and pieces of fish and I think squid to the stingrays, fish, and crabs living in the pool. I also watched as Amanda hand fed some clams to the rays and then used a long pole to feed the guitarfish. And then I did dishes, hooray!

Then, one of the part-timers, Allie, and I went on a “Spring” cleaning rampage to get rid of a lot of the dust and then I headed down to Sea Turtle to help scrub tanks. I cleaned three of A System’s pools where Shakira, Indy, and Stewart are all housed (only I cleaned one of the empties while the other part-timer, Amanda, cleaned Stewart’s pool) and then D System’s pool where Caleb is housed. It’s a huge pool and took some time to clean and throughout, Caleb kept coming over to check on what I was doing. I’m not sure if he wanted it gone and was trying to be threatening - and failing to do so - or genuinely curious, but it was entertaining since the other turtles swim away or ignore it. Just after the others went inside and I was finishing up, I noticed Indy had pooped and reported it to Jackie, the second-in-command and my “boss” on my volunteer days. She was pleased to hear it since they’d been waiting for it. After she checked on it, seeing it to be huge, solid, and otherwise healthy in appearance, I was free to dispose of it, so I did.

I have a feeling I’ll be mentioning poop a lot on this blog, but in the animal world, poop is a good thing and nothing to bat your lashes at. As we say at the zoo, a pooping animal is one that is healthy. If one has never experienced an animal with colic, you don’t understand the joy of seeing an animal defecate! So, sorry if anyone is grossed out reading this. I’ll give you a hint - don’t get into the animal field or own an animal. Poop happens and it’s a good thing!

After cleaning, it was time to start picking up Gopher Tortoise food and I went down to help collect it and clean dishes, but Amanda asked me to watch Dakota who she was taking for a “walk.” When they go for walks, it’s sometimes more like a sit and babysit sort of deal. Dakota is housed indoors right now at all times, save for her walks, as her wound is too big and could risk infection if she’s outside all day. She also does not use her back legs, which makes it hard for her to move. They’re not certain if she’ll regain the use of them or not, which may weigh upon the choice they may have to make for her if she doesn’t. For a tortoise with no use of their back legs, the survival rate isn’t sufficient and they suffer with every movement. Most just sort of sit there or, in Dakota’s case, eat a little, then fall asleep in the sunshine.


Dakota the Gopher Tortoise napping!

Nueve is so energetic she tries to climb the walls sometimes like she’s Spider-nueve!

Either way, I watched her for, oh, an hour, since I wasn’t told otherwise. Somewhere in the midst of it, Amanda came up and asked me to hold Calzone, whom she had just taken in for bandaging, so he could get his fluid injection. He did well and for where the shot is given - at the crook of “shoulder” and neck on a tortoise, whatever it’s called. - I’m amazed they don’t squirm so much. Then I went back to watching Dakota. At the end of the hourish I was out there, Amanda popped her head out and was amazed I was still out there, feeling awful that she had abandoned me! So, I was told to put to put Dakota back inside and head into the air conditioning myself.


Calzone, post-injection.

I cooled off and chugged a Gatorade while listening to the others talk, then wandered about cleaning more here and there before being asked to put the Gopher Tortoises away. For the first time! All by myself! So I brought Winkie, Vino, Calzone, and Nueve in while Lindsey cleaned the water dishes. Once they were all away, I was asked to give Stewart and Flurry a few more pieces of romaine since they’d eaten all theirs up already and both attacked them immediately. Upon returning, Jackie asked me to feed Toby, the Pine Snake.

I knew it would have to happen eventually, given the nature of the beast, but I had to handle dead mice. He is fed frozen-thawed mice, or mice that are pre-killed, frozen, and thawed out for an animal, just as you may buy frozen burgers or chicken at the grocery store. You’re welcome for that comparison. I’d always been a bit squeamish given what it is, but I just sucked it up today and went for it. Not so bad, surprisingly! After arranging them on a tray, I went in to feed Toby who definitely knew they were there, but didn’t eat them. Too many people in the area where he is housed stresses him out too much to eat. Unfortunately, there were a bunch of people and though he went within an inch of them, staring at them, and flicking his tongue like mad, he never actually ate them. The other downside of a bunch of people was that I got stuck talking for 10-15 minutes about Pine Snakes. It’s a good thing we have ours at the zoo, so I know my stuff about them. Still, Allie came to check on me and get Kringle, the Box turtle housed next to Toby, and I felt bad, even though I am sure they’d rather me not brush guests off. So I excused myself, finished my check list for the two animals and headed back into the office to finish up any miscellaneous little tasks.

Jackie came in to announce that, and I quote, “Caleb’s butt exploded” and I said I’d go clean it, so I did. Man, she wasn’t kidding! He’d made a mess and it was all over the majority of his pool. As he had earlier with the scrubbers, he was also either bothered or curious, and kept coming to check me and the net out. After I was done, everything was pretty much done and after chatting for a little while, the day was over. As Lindsey and I walked out together, we saw a dead bird on the ground and reported it. Weird way to end a day, but it was a pretty awesome one again and I already am looking forward to my next shift!