"Interrupted Journey" - Postcards from Hallsville Middle School

Hi all,

I would like to give a special shout out to the 5th grade students at the Hallsville Middle School in Hallsville, TX! These students recently read a book called Interrupted Journey, the book is based on cold-stunned sea turtles that stranded and were sent to our sea turtle hospital at the New England Aquarium. [Learn more about the Aquarium's sea turtle conservation and research!]

Below is a photo of the book Interrupted Journey.

After they read the book, their teacher, Ms. Dulaney, asked them to write a postcard about what they learned. Ms. Dulaney then wrote a letter and mailed the postcards to us here at the New England Aquarium Rescue department.

I pinned up the cards and took photos. If you click on the photos you can see the cards in detail. These students put a lot of work into this assignment and it really paid off - the postcards are beautiful!

I took this photo separate from the other postcards because this student actually called the vet in the book by name. While Dr. Howard Krum no longer works at the New England Aquarium, he is a close personal friend. He will be truly touched by this postcard, I will be sure to email him a copy (Thanks, Jonah!).

These postcards were double sided with the pictures on the front and text on the back. All were written with great care and passion. I read every one of them and was impressed and inspired when I was done. The students had some great questions. While I can't answer all of them here, I'll cover the most common ones.

Q: What species generally come into our sea turtle hospital?

A: Kemp's ridley (the most endangered sea turtles in the world), green sea turtles and loggerheads.

Q: What do the turtles eat while they are in rehabilitation?

A: We feed a variety of food items to balance their nutrition. Squid, herring, shrimp and live crabs make up the bulk of their daily diets. We also provide vegetation for the green sea turtles.

Q: What sizes are the sea turtles?

A: The turtles that strand due to hypothermia (reduced body temperature) are generally very small depending on the species. The Kemp's are the smallest and often weigh between 1-5 pounds when they come in. The green turtles tend to be a little bigger at between 4-8 pounds and the loggerheads are the largest usually at about 100 pounds. Last year we had a 175 pound loggerhead strand! (Note: The animals that strand in our area are juveniles, adults of each species will be much larger than the above weights.)

The largest sea turtle in the world is the leatherback sea turtle. These animals rarely strand and do not tolerate rehabilitation well. These turtles can weight over 1,000 pounds.

Below are photos of leatherbacks I took while I was at sea working on a leatherback sea turtle research project.

The students also noticed that we receive a lot of volunteer help and asked for some photos. Below are photos of our staff and volunteers in action and a few of our current patients.

I truly enjoyed reading the postcards from these smart and wonderful students. It really brightened my day to know there are so many people out there that care as much about sea turtles as I do - no matter the age.

I'd also like to thank their teacher Ms. Dulaney for reaching out to us on behalf of the students. Teaching our future generations is difficult and often thankless. On behalf of the Rescue staff, I thank you for taking the time to teach your students about marine animals and the importance of helping them. You're a true star!

- Connie

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