Recovering in a hospital tank can be quite boring for a sea turtle that would normally have all kinds of stimulation from their natural enviornment. Ocean currents, waves, fish, other animals, coral reefs, sea grass, seaweed, and rocks all exist in a sea turtle’s natural environment. A sea turtle’s shell has a lot of sensation and they will often use rock ledges to scratch their “backs.” They also find areas within the rocks where they can rest and may even tuck their heads underneath the rock ledges when it’s time to take a break. We cannot mimic their natural environment exactly, but we can provide enrichment to an otherwise not so exciting bare tank. One way to do this is by building “turtle toys” out of PVC pipes. We can construct cubes and triangles for the turtles to scratch up against, lean on, and even swim around. It is also quite entertaining for the rehabilitation staff when we see them using the enrichment we provide for them. In the photo above you can see Scooter, our past education turtle–a juvenile loggerhead, enjoying his new toy! Below is Izzy, a boat strike survivor and back scratch enthusiast.
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