Sea Turtle Surprise

Kirstie holds one of the NMLC sea turtle patients
Kirstie holds one of the NMLC sea turtle patients
Kirstie Weighs a sea turtle upon admit

Before I started interning with NMLC I had never before considered working with sea turtles.  It’s not that I did not like turtles but more simply that my attention was drawn to the flashiness of marine mammals.  However, now that I have been working with the Kemps and Tide for a few months, I have come to realize that I really enjoy working with these animals.  Surprise for me!!  Now you might be thinking to yourself, “Hello…didn’t you see on the sign that we are both a seal and sea turtle center?”  My response to you is, “Of course I saw that.  I can read.”  But I will be honest, I was way more excited to work with the seals and therefore the thought of working with turtles was definitely pushed to the back of my mind.

Kirstie helps to take measurements of a sea turtle patient

Now that I have had the pleasure of hanging out with our turtles, they may have become my favorite (sorry Ichabod!).  For one, I thoroughly enjoy participating in the treatments of the turtles.  Learning how to administer fluids and antibiotic shots has been a completely new and rewarding experience for me (plus I feel like a real vet, which makes me feel cool).  I get to ask tons of questions to our incredible animal care staff, who are people I have never stopped learning from.  Also running the rodeo that we like to call the “feeds” is interesting to watch.  I like to think that when the turtles are feeding is when their individual personalities shine through the most.  For instance #36 turns into a complete bully who seems intent on muscling away any and all food from almost every other turtle.  #32 is hard to spot because she cruising along the bottom and most likely getting her meal from there.  Sometimes I wonder if #37 knows there is more to the pool than just the edges.  And #33 lazily floats in the middle near the surface scooping up almost every piece thrown her way.  No offense to #33 but what a pig!  And who could forget about Tide, the loggerhead?  When I first laid eyes on him I could not believe his size.  The pictures on Facebook do not do that turtle justice.  He is a true living dinosaur and just watching him is completely amazing.

So yes, I have immensely enjoyed working with the sea turtles and I greatly appreciate the opportunity.  Such a nice surprise for me!


Posted by Kirstie B.
Kirstie is a Spring, 2014 Intern at the National Marine Life Center. She recently graduated from Smith College with a major in Biology.