Fun meter: Off the charts
Location: Taliarte Marine Park
Time: 30 min – 1 hour
Level of difficulty: medium
Good for what ages: 7+
Cost: One favor. This is a private research facility (sorry).
Sea turtles are … EVIL. They may look cute and cuddly but they are actually diabolical, plotting to take over the world. Meet your new turtoverlords!!! Just kidding… OR AM I?!?
After visiting the abalone farm project, we went to see the turtle research centre. There were big tanks with 12 turtles swimming around, some rescued or injured, others that grew up here. One of the girls working with the turtles let me join her inside the tank while she cleaned. I got to pet giant loggerhead turtles that are bigger than my brother and she took her time to teach me about the turtles.
Are you ready to learn a bit about these amazing and clever creatures?
Meeting the Turtles
When I climbed into the tank, the student showed me each part of the body of the turtle. Dad took a bunch of notes about the Abalone, but the only note from the visit to the turtles was “Watch out, THEY BITE!” I was careful. The neck and shoulders are soft but all the rest is super hard. Did you know that sea turtles are different from tortoises because they can’t put their heads, arms, and tails inside their shells? Even though it had hands like me, this loggerhead turtle had only 2 finger nails. She explained that they eat shellfish (like abalone), crabs and more than anything, love jellyfish.
I noted that one of the turtles had a big old tail, and another didn’t. Once sea turtles grow up, boys grow long tails past their back flippers, but girls’ tails stay shorter. So you can tell if it’s a boy or a girl if you are snorkeling in the water by the size of its tail. Pretty handy if you don’t speak turtle.
Rescue and Healing
One of the important responsibilities of the people we met was to heal and help turtles that are hurt or sick. There was one sick turtle that couldn’t dive under the water, it just floated on the surface. Its tummy was so full of gas because it ate something dangerous. Most of the turtles they help are there because jellyfish and plastic bags look the same when floating in the water. And if your tummy is full of plastic bags… that is not good at all. It’s not only doctors who can help the turtles. We can help by making sure we put plastic bags, masks and garbage in the trash can, not in the ocean. Maybe we should stop using plastic bags at all. Just bring your reusable bag with you when you go shopping. It saves money and makes the world better. The ocean doesn’t need your trash. Poor little turtle. It seemed so sad and sick.
They brought in a turtle while we were there that was trapped in a fishing net. You can even see the net in the box behind the picture. It had holes in its shell from hooks. They put disinfectant on the wound and then medicine. I felt super sad for the poor turtle.I helped put a sheet over the turtle eyes so it would calm down and not be scared. Lots of animals get caught up in old nets. I’m glad they were here to help.
Loggerhead turtles have been recorded to travel as far as 13,000 kilometers per year. Every three years, they would swim around the whole planet. Wow. That is a lot!! Sojourn can’t even swim to the reef without a floaty. All that travel makes them pretty trick to study.
To learn more about the turtles, they raise their own and study each phase of the life cycle. What does turtle puberty look like? Do they get pimples? DO THEIR VOICES CRACK? Do they even talk? Turns out, maybe they do.
Those giant green bags? That is algae to feed the abalone. I wonder if it would be good in a spinach, apple smoothie?
The researchers have all kinds of experiments. Right now there is a study about how eating plastic affects their health. There is a lot of plastic in the ocean these days and the students really were passionate about how big a problem it is.
Good write up, Serenity! You are so right about plastic! Do you know your Aunt Kristin tries to never use plastic? If she ends up with a bag, she washes out and reuses it until it falls apart. I’m not as “good” as she is, but we should all pay attention and try to minimize the plastic we use. That’s a good lesson. I’m glad you are learning so much about marine life and loving it!