Florida Zoo Cares for Hundreds of Baby Sea Turtles Following Hurricane Ian

by Alex Falls
Anadolu Agency / Contributor / Getty

The path of destruction left behind by Hurricane Ian is still being felt by countless people throughout Florida. People and officials are still deep into the recovery efforts, but the state’s rich population of animals is also at risk in the aftermath. The Brevard Zoo in Florida is helping the efforts by caring for hundreds of baby sea turtles brought there after the destruction.

The zoo announced that its Sea Turtle Healing Center received more than 200 baby sea turtles as of Saturday. Various species are being cared for such as green, loggerhead and hawksbill. Most of the baby turtles came from the Cape Canaveral area on Thursday.

The influx of turtles into the care center did not come as a surprise. Many sea turtle rehabilitation facilities along the Atlantic received more animals following the historic storm.

The zoo said that major weather events like Hurricane Ian can disrupt the growth patterns of baby sea turtles that get caught in the storm or are just making their first swim into the ocean. The storms can also damage offshore patches of seaweed that give the sea turtles shelter and food.

Zoo staff and volunteers assessed each of the baby sea turtles and categorize them by size. Those under 5 centimeters long are considered “hatchlings,” while “post-hatchlings” are 5 centimeters or longer. Veterinarians treat any sea turtles that arrive injured.

“The healthy turtles get situated in a tank outfitted with special enrichment items that allow them to comfortably float. Although many spend their time whizzing around the tank,” zoo officials said. “They’re fed lettuce and a mashed-up mixture of fish, shrimp and clams, likely their first meal since eating their egg’s yolk.”

The turtles will receive the same care until ocean conditions improve.

The Effects of Hurricane Ian

The number of people killed in Florida by Hurricane Ian rose to at least 100 on Monday. The storm made landfall at Category 4 strength. It decimated coastal towns and left rescue crews searching for survivors while communities face the daunting task of rebuilding.

More than 1,600 people have been rescued from Hurricane Ian’s path in parts of southwest and central Florida since last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office said Sunday. As blue skies and sunshine return, Floridians who took shelter while the hurricane raged have emerged. Many of them are still without power or clean drinking water and have found their communities unrecognizable.

Nearly 600,000 homes, businesses and other customers in Florida still did not have power as of early Monday afternoon. Many are without clean tap water, with well over 100 boil-water advisories in places around the state, according to Florida Health Department data.

Countless people have become affected by the storm’s rage. The winds and floods may have passed, but there’s still a major amount of work to be done to help the state recover from the unprecedented damage.