Thanksgiving Turtle Rescue

Hi all and a Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours,

I was getting dressed this morning for my holiday festivities when I received a text from Kerry who was covering our sea turtle hospital (just for the record a text on a holiday during turtle season usually spells trouble). Her text said "14 new turtles coming in" (translation- you won't be seeing your family today for thanksgiving). Luckily I have an understanding family so I changed into scrubs and headed to the sea turtle hospital.

Below is a photo of the clinic all set up and waiting for the new arrivals. Look how sparkling clean and organized.

The turtles came up in two separate vehicles. The first volunteer sea turtle driver came up with 9 turtles and then I wrangled my brother into picking up the remaining six and bringing them to us. (One way to ensure seeing family in this business is to make them volunteer!)

In the photos below Kate and Alice, our super-star turtle volunteers who gave up her holiday to help sea turtles, prepare for the incoming turtles. On the left Kate organizes the paperwork for each turtle before we begin exams. In the photo on the right Alice prepares the swim pools - look how happy she is to be saving endangered species on a holiday!

The photo below shows the clinic in full swing. Like me, our vet Dr. Cavin was headed to her holiday festivities when we called her in. Below she is multitasking her turtle work by reading blood results and preparing to ultrasound a turtle. On the left in the foreground is my brother. Not only did I enlist him to drive turtles ... I then convinced him to stay and help out - Thanks John!

We have several critical cases in today's group of animals. One animal had to be placed on a ventilator to ensure proper oxygen circulation. Before putting the animal on the ventilator, we were breathing for the animal manually. in the photo on the left, Kate is proving ventilation manually, the photo on the right is a shot of the ventilator machine once the animal was hooked up. Notice the breaths are set at 3. These animals wouldn't be breathing more then that on their own so that's is the appropriate setting.

Below Kate plays lifeguard to a few of the new turtles. We can't leave them unattended in water during this phase of rehabilitation.

Of course when this many endangered species come in at once it usually attracts the media. The place was jumping after not long!

In the photo below on the left Kerry answers questions while checking a new turtle. On the photo on the right Ulrika checks the heart rate of one of the new patients while the media films the exam. You can read the Boston Globe story here and the Reuters story here.

In the photo below on the left Dr. Cavin works on a turtle while a member of the media shoots video. In the photo on the right our media director, Tony, answers questions for a Channel 5 reporter.

While my plans for today included enjoying a nice RELAXING holiday with my family and friends, it didn't quite work out that way. I have no regrets though as saving endangered species brings it's own rewards. On this day I'm most thankful for all those in our society who also worked today to take care of people and animals. Police, fire, hospital staff, animal shelter staff, sea turtle biologists (ha), our military and so many others all gave up their holidays to keep humans and animals safe ... I guess I'm in good company.



  1. Wow! That's a busy holiday... keep up the good work :)

  2. Thank you to all the great people who sacrificed their holiday to help these wonderful sea turtles!

  3. You are good people! Well done!

  4. "That's really neat that you're helping out sea turtles," from my 7 year old. "Thank you for doing that for the sea turtles."

  5. Hello Connie.
    First, thanks for your dedication - and appreciation to your brother who must care about you as well as the turtles.

    I just have to ask.. From the article I read, the turtles should have maintained a body temp of 70 degrees - and they were at 50 degrees. I don't understand how they could survive that degree of variation in body temp. I grew up in Maine. That water is always cold... I'm amazed they were there at all. I know they were migrating and strong winds blew them in to shore - but even so. How did the turtles get that sick? And almost more amazing -Who found them and realized they were in need of immediate medical attention? I am intrigued and impressed. ~ Loretta

  6. Hi Loretta,
    Connie is pretty busy right now with the sea turtle patients, but we're sure she'll be able to answer your questions soon.

    In the meantime, here are some previous posts that might start to answer your questions.

    Here's an overview of sea turtle strandings:

    This post shows how volunteers found a 175 lb loggerhead stranded in a marsh last year:

    And as for the temperature of the ocean and the sea turtle's temperature, you can see some pretty thorough tracking data from a rescued and released sea turtle named Goose here:

    There's a map in the post that includes ocean surface temperatures along the migration route.