Visiting the Turtle Hospital In Marathon Florida

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If you are visiting Marathon Florida Keys with kids then you will want to add a stop at the Turtle Hospital. This fun and educational stop is perfect for the whole family. We loved our visit to the Turtle Hospital In Marathon Florida.

Turtle Hospital in Marathon Florida

Visiting the Turtle Hospital In Marathon Florida

When we took our trip to the Florida Keys one of my must-do stops was visiting the Turtle Hospital in Marathon Florida. My kids love learning about animals and sea life so this was a perfect stop. The turtle hospital was a great educational and fun experience. We all enjoyed seeing the turtles up close and learning about how they are helped at the Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Florida.

When you step into the hospital, the world of sea turtles captivates everyone. The guided tours provide an up-close look at the rehabilitation process, allowing kids to witness the incredible efforts taken to heal these magnificent creatures.

The kids had a ton of fun watching the sea turtles and learning about them. It was a great way to include learning while having fun on our trip to the Florida Keys.

Turtle Hospital in Marathon Florida

What is the Turtle Hospital?

The Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Florida, serves as a unique and educational destination that focuses on rehabilitating and conserving sea turtles. Located in the Florida Keys, this facility stands as the world’s first licensed veterinary hospital solely dedicated to the treatment of sea turtles. Visitors can partake in guided educational tours that provide an opportunity to explore the hospital’s facilities and learn about the rehabilitation process firsthand.

The Turtle Hospital stands as a unique institution worldwide, being the sole veterinary hospital of its kind to hold state certification. Richie Moretti established this remarkable facility in 1986, with a vision that has grown even further. Following the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma, Moretti’s determination led to the transformation of his roadside motel, the Hidden Harbor Motel. This redevelopment turned the establishment into a cutting-edge rehabilitation center exclusively dedicated to treating injured turtles.

Is the Turtle Hospital Worth Visiting?

Yes! The tour was fun and educational. All of the kids loved learning about the sea turtles. The staff, made up of volunteers was extremely nice and accommodating to the kid’s questions. The educational tour was not only informative but kept the attention of the kids. 

How long is the Turtle Hospital Tour?

The Turtle Hospital tour typically lasts around 90 minutes. The tour starts with an educational session. Then the guided tour takes you thru the hospital’s facilities. After That, the tour takes you outside to the salt water tanks that the turtles who are in rehab are in. Following the tanks you will visit the natural ocean water area of the permanent residents of the facility. While going thru the tour you will have an in-depth look at the rehabilitation process. How long the tour takes also depends on how active in the discussion the group is. If there is a lot of engagement and questions it will take longer.

When are the Turtle Hospital Tours?

The Educational Programs and turtle hospital tours run daily from 9 am until 4 pm every half hour. 

What do you see on the tour of the Turtle Hospital?

During the tour, you will see the different stages of sea turtle rehabilitation. Starting with the initial rescue and examination to surgery and recovery. The knowledgeable staff will provide insights into the turtles’ life cycles, their natural habitats, and the challenges they encounter in the wild. 

The tour starts with an educational session where the staff will tell you about sea turtles and how they help injured sea turtles and what they do at the Marathon sea turtle hospital to help injured sea turtles.

Turtle Hospital in Marathon Florida hospital room

After the educational session, we got to see the hospital rooms. This is where surgeries on turtles are performed. When you are walking to the turtle tanks part of the tour you will pass the turtle ambulance. This is what they use to transport injured sea turtles to the rehab facility.

We got to the saltwater pool tanks and the tour guide told us about all the of the turtles they currently have lived there. We got to see the turtles who are under the care of the hospital, learn their stories, and the plans for getting them back into the ocean.

After the saltwater tanks area, we headed to the open water area. This area is a large ocean water area that is blocked off. This is to keep the turtles in this safe area that has ocean water flowing into it. This is where the permanent resident turtles live, who are unable to ever go back into the ocean. The kids loved being able to watch the turtles swim around and being able to feed them.

What Types of turtles will you see at the Turtle Hospital?

During your visit, you may have the chance to observe multiple different species of turtles at the Turtle Hospital. It’s important to note that the specific sea turtles at the hospital can vary and are not consistently the same. When patients are admitted and then successfully rehabilitated and then released back into the wild, ones are brought in. The Turtle Hospital commonly treats several sea turtle species, including:

Loggerhead Sea Turtles (Caretta caretta). Loggerhead turtles are the most prevalent sea turtle species in Florida. These turtles are known for their large heads and powerful jaws.

Green Sea Turtles (Chelonia mydas). Green sea turtles are named for the color of their fat, that is green due to their herbivorous diet. They are known for their graceful swimming and can be found in warm coastal waters.

Hawksbill Sea Turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata). Hawksbills are known for their distinctive beak-like jaws and beautiful, marbled shells. They primarily feed on sponges and are critically endangered.

Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles (Lepidochelys kempii). Kemp’s Ridley turtles are the smallest and most endangered sea turtle species. They are mainly found in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. 

Leatherback Turtles (Dermochelys coriacea). Leatherback turtles are the largest species of sea turtles. They are known for their unique shell, which lacks the hard bony plates found in other turtles. Their carapace is composed of leathery, flexible, and oil-saturated skin that gives them their name. 

What injuries do the turtles have at the turtle hospital?

At the Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Florida, sea turtles are brought in for treatment and rehabilitation due to a variety of injuries and ailments. Some of the common injuries and conditions that turtles may experience and require care for at the hospital include:

  1. Boat Strikes. Sea turtles are injured by boat propellers or collisions, which can cause deep cuts, lacerations, or fractured shells.
  2. Entanglement. Turtles may become entangled in fishing lines, fishing nets, or other marine debris, this leads to injuries such as lacerations, flipper or neck entanglements, or constriction wounds.
  3. Ingestion of Marine Debris. Turtles often mistake plastic and other marine debris for food and ingest it, which can cause blockages, internal injuries, or nutritional deficiencies.
  4. Fibropapillomatosis (fibropapilloma virus). This is a viral disease that causes the growth of benign tumors in the soft tissues of sea turtles. These tumors can impair the turtle’s mobility, feeding ability, and overall health.
  5. Cold Stunning. In colder months, sea turtles may experience cold stunning. When this happens a condition in which they become hypothermic due to sudden drops in water temperature. This can lead to lethargy, weakness, and other health issues.
  6. Infections and Diseases. Sea turtles can suffer from various infections, including respiratory infections, shell infections, or parasitic infestations, which require medical intervention and treatment.

Where is the Turtle Hospital Located?

The Turtle Hospital and education center are in the same building. It is located in Marathon, Florida, at 2396 Overseas Highway (U.S. 1), Marathon, FL 33050. It is situated in the heart of the Florida Keys. It is approximately halfway between Key West and the mainland. The facility is easily accessible along the main highway and is a prominent destination for sea turtle rehabilitation and education in the area

How much does it cost to go to the Turtle Hospital in Marathon?

I highly recommended that you book admission online on their website. You can get same-day walk-up tickets. If picking this option you may have to wait for the next available time slot. As this is a working turtle hospital they limit the amount of people on each tour. 

  • Adult: $30.00
  • Children (4-12 years old): $15.00
  • Children under 4: Free

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