Turtle Hospital in FL Keys Accepts Tiniest First Patient After Hurricane Irma

Posted by Stacey Venzel
sea turtle hatchling
Stacey Venzel

The sea turtles at the Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys are safe and already accepting hurricane patients!

We're overjoyed to share that not only did the skeleton crew and all the flippered patients at the Turtle Hospital survive Hurricane Irma intact, but the hospital is already taking in itty-bitty storm victims!

Founder Richie Moretti has lived through his fair share of storms, including Hurricane Wilma that crashed through the Keys in 2005.

Moretti accepted the hospital's first patient since the storm only two days after the Category 4 hurricane cleared the island's shores.

The green sea turtle hatchling is a washback turtle, which happens after tropical storms. Baby sea turtles have to crawl across the beach and make their way out to the Gulf Stream current off Florida's coast. Strong waves and tides can strand them on shore or leave them floating at sea outside of the protection of the current.

If spotted on the shores of the Florida Keys, the team at the Turtle Hospital can be called to pick up the hatchling and transport it back to an ocean-fed rehabilitation tank. There, the little hatchling is fed bits of squid and fish until it is strong enough to be released from a boat into the Gulf Stream.

green sea turtle
Turtle Hospital/Facebook

The hatchling, aptly named Irma, was riding on the flippers of another recent pre-Irma patient - an adult green sea turtle named Harvey. Green sea turtles can reach upwards of 300 pounds.

Sea turtles aren't the only revered island wildlife to survive the catastrophic storm. Key deer were spotted frolicking after the winds passed.

Follow the Turtle Hospital on Facebook and Instagram for more turtle updates! And, if you're feeling generous, consider making a donation to help the turtles.

Have you ever seen a sea turtle in need of rescue? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

WATCH NOW: How to Prepare Your Pet for an Emergency

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Turtle Hospital in FL Keys Accepts Tiniest First Patient After Hurricane Irma