We Are Very Proud of Our Efforts to Rehabilitate Sea Turtles
At Coral World Ocean Park there are rehabilitation facilities for all kinds of animals. We do our best to nurse back to health sick or injured sea birds, freshwater turtles, and, most importantly, sea turtles. If concerned citizens of the Virgin Islands see a turtle that is in need of veterinary assistance, they can either call Coral World or STAR, the Sea Turtle Assistance and Rescue program. Dedicated staff, such as our veterinary technician Erica Palmer, transport the animals to Coral World to begin the rehabilitation process. Sometimes turtles have sustained grave injuries from boat strikes, suffer from illness or infection, or in the case of our hawksbill hatchlings, have simply lost their way. They are found washed up on beaches where ocean currents have dumped them. They are too small and weak to make it to the open ocean on their own.
Baby sea turtles in need of rehabilitation arrive at Coral World tiny and vulnerable. For the duration of their time with us, we carefully prepare their daily diet, feed them, and observe their behavior. Once they become a bit bigger and stronger, our hard work caring for them is rewarded with their release back to the wild.
Hatchling turtles need to be released in deep, safe waters where they can find big floating mats of sargassum, a type of sea weed. We bring them out on a boat and bring some floating plant matter with us to ensure they will have cover from predators even if there is no sargassum around. Once we place them in the water, they are off swimming, diving, and exploring their new surroundings. For the staff, hatchling releases are bittersweet. We are sad to see those cute little guys go, but at the same time we are overjoyed to see a few more turtles in the wild population. We wish them luck on their long journey to becoming adults and making baby turtles of their own.