The Turtle Hospital was hit hard by Hurricane Wilma in October of 2005, however we are still standing on this, the second anniversary of the storm’s passing! In fact, the storm provided a surprising opportunity and an exciting new vision of the future for the hospital!
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The hurricane brought relatively little wind, but it carried a massive storm surge which flooded the entire island. Fortunately, we did not loose a single turtle. We placed the younger and more critically injured turtles in kiddie-pools safely inside the hospital. The permanent residents and all larger turtles stayed in the main pool. In the wild, sea turtles instinctively know to lay low during hurricanes. They basically sleep on the sea floor for up to five hours which is usually enough time for the storm to pass. The 100,000-gallon main pool is 15-feet deep, so the turtles knew exactly what to do…they just slept right through it.
Unfortunately, the facilities did not fare as well as the turtles. Prior to Hurricane Wilma, the hospital was funded by the Hidden Harbor Motel (located adjacent to the hospital). The motel suffered major flood damage and had to be closed. However, inherent in every constraint is an opportunity! After the hurricane, the Turtle Hospital became a 501(c)3 charitable organization. As we are no longer supported by the motel, the hospital is now completely non-profit. We survive solely on tours, gift shop sales, and donations. We offer multiple tours every day of the week where guests have the opportunity to see and learn about the hospital facility and meet the turtles. We are also constantly expanding the gift shop where T-shirts are still everybody’s favorite. However, we rely most heavily on donations. Like any non-profit, without charitable donations from businesses, clubs, organizations, and individuals we would not be able to survive. If you would like to make a donation to The Turtle Hospital and you do not live nearby, you can write to us at 2396 Overseas Highway, Marathon, FL 33050. We cannot express the measure of our gratitude. Thank you for helping to preserve the sea turtle population and the vitality of our oceans!
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