Days #21 & #22
We left Key West behind and moved to Marathon. The City of Marathon is known as the Heart of the Keys. We stayed in a really nice campground, except for the herd of iguanas, which I believe are following me.
I have a writer friend, Mary Stella, who lives in Marathon and works at the Dolphin Rescue Center which was founded as a nonprofit corporation in 1984 by Jayne and Armando Rodriguez. They wanted to ensure the dolphins had a home for life if they could not be released back into the wild. The center has established a unique education and research facility.
At the center, they have Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions. Over half of those living there were born at the Center, but other members have either come from other facilities or were rescued, rehabilitated and deemed unreleasable back into the wild by the Government. They now have a home at Dolphin Research Center forever.
I got to visit with Mary while Aunt Gail went with Hickory, Dickory, and Dock to have an up close and personal experience with the dolphins.
|Brody swimming with the dolphins|
|Ty swimming with the dolphins|
|Brody getting a kiss from either Cayo or Gypsi|
not sure which
|Kiss for Drew|
|Drew dancing with the dolphin|
|Giving instructions for the dolphin to jump|
|Ty getting a kiss|
Gail and Ronnie left us the next morning to go back to Virginia. We stayed another day in Marathon and took the boys to the Turtle Hospital. It is the only state-certified veterinary hospital in the world for sea turtles. Many veterinarians volunteer their time to take care of the turtles. They have up-to-date medical equipment which has been donated, including an ambulance.
|My Bahama Richard reading all |
about the Turtle Hospital and
They treat a variety of ailments at the Turtle Hospital, such as: flipper amputations caused by entanglements from garbage, fishing line, and trap line, shell damage caused by boat collisions, intestinal impactions caused from ingestion of foreign materials as plastic bags, balloons, food wrappers, and fishing line. Every sea turtle brought into the hospital is rehabilitated and released as soon as possible.
The most common surgery is for the removal of debilitating viral tumors. This affects over half of the juvenile population of the green sea turtles. I was really impressed with this facility. I was amazed at the different tanks that held turtles in different stages of healing and hearing all the attention each patient gets in the Turtle Hospital.
One thing I found interesting (and a little funny) was a thing that happens to some of the turtles that are struck by a boat propeller and cracks open their shells. If this happens air fills the inside of the shell making it deformed. Because of this, the turtle cannot dive to the bottom where his food is and starves to death or since he is floating on the surface, he can be hit by another boat.
The first turtle to come to the hospital with this condition was in 1989, and he is still there. His posterior bobs on the surface. Because of that injury, he became known as “Bubble-Butt”. When turtles come in with this condition, they fiberglass weights to their shell. The weights offset the floatation problem. If the turtle has overcome the problem when the weights fall off, he can then be released back into the water. Unfortunately, Bubble-Butt's rehabilitation measures failed to correct his problem. Since fiberglass is only semi-permanent, his weights eventually fall off. He remains at the hospital where his weights can be replaced as needed.
|There was a bunch of them|
I thought they were so cute.
|This isn't the original Bubble Butt,|
but you can see how its backend
floats on top of the water.
The Turtle Hospital is quite an impressive operation and took about 1 and ½ hour to go through the whole place. I do recommend it.
|My sweet little Ninja Turtles|
Raphael, Michelangelo, Leonardo
Until next time,