22 Malnourished, Barnacle-Encrusted Young Turtles Wash up in Florida
The nearly two dozen juvenile green sea turtles are receiving life-saving treatment at Turtle Hospital in the Keys.
A staggering 22 young turtles—several encrusted with barnacles, indicating severe malnourishment—became stranded along the Florida coastline this week, pushing local wildlife organizations to their limits.
CBS Miami reports that Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers drove the young turtles, wrapped in towels and placed in plastic tubs, from the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne and the Marine Science Center in Volusia County down to the Keys-based hospital on Monday evening.
"They washed ashore over the past week, lethargic, covered in barnacles, and the facilities throughout Florida are at capacity," Bette Zirkelbach, manager of the Turtle Hospital, told CBS Miami. "The Turtle Hospital is receiving these turtles to help out because we do have the capacity for these turtles and we have the staffing and, fortunately, the resources to rehabilitate them."
Scientists aren't sure why the turtles were beached or why they became critically malnourished, but Zirkelbach told CBS Miami that juvenile green sea turtles stranding on Central Florida Atlantic Ocean beaches has been a "normal springtime occurrence" for the past couple of years.
"There's no one smoking gun that veterinarians have found that's bringing these turtles in," Zirkelbach said. "It may be weather patterns, it may be the currents or the winds that are washing them ashore, maybe the weaker ones."
The Turtle Hospital has treated and rehabilitated more than 2,000 injured sea turtles over the past 30-plus years. It is the world's first state-licensed veterinary sea turtle hospital.
WATCH: Watch This Baby Sea Turtle Make Its Way To The Ocean
As for the turtles, Zirkelbach tells Southern Living that they've each been named after a spice.
We're happy to report that Cream of Tartar (pictured above) and her fellow turtles been receiving the best care in the world and are improving quickly. You can follow their journey on Turtle Hospital's Facebook page.