A must-see on a road trip through the Keys, the Marathon Turtle Hospital is a small, non-profit organisation dedicated to the rehabilitation of endangered sea turtles.
The Turtle Hospital is home to over 50 sick and injured turtles who are undergoing various stages of treatment, rehabilitation, or have been deemed unsuitable to be released into the wild and so have become permanent residents.
In order to meet the turtles you must book in for a tour of the facilities. The tour lasts around 90 minutes and includes a presentation on the various turtle breeds and the threats they face in the wild, a tour of the hospital facilities, and, what everyone had been waiting for, meeting the turtle patients. The majority of the turtles end up in the hospital after bodily trauma (such as being hit by a propeller blade) or sickness such as infections or tumours.
Several of the turtles have what’s called “bubble butt” where an accident, such as a boating incident, has damaged their shell, letting air in underneath it, giving them the appearance of a “bubble butt”, which causes the turtle to float.
Turtles with bubble butt have weights affixed to them to help them balance out and give them the ability to swim underneath the water once more.
At the end of each program guests are invited to feed the permanent residents – not touch them, mind you, but throw their favourite pellets to them as they swim happily in the pool underneath.
Because they are a working hospital, you must be part of one of the guided educational programs in order to visit the turtles. Reservations are highly recommended.
The Turtle Hospital
2396 Overseas Hwy, Marathon, FL
Prices: Adults: $22, kids 4-12 years old: $11, under 4 free