Saturday, February 19, 2011

Because sea turtles can't search the internet, continued...

We treat three species of sea turtles in our hospital: green, Kemp's ridley, and loggerhead. To keep them all mentally stimulated, we do our best to offer natural food enrichment. Green sea turtles are primarily vegetarians and feed on sea grasses and algae in the ocean. Although we can't feed this normal ocean vegetation, we do give them a diet consisting of a variety of garden vegetables including but not limited to romaine and red leaf lettuces, cabbage, collard greens and bell peppers.

Below is a video of juvenile green sea turtles feeding from PVC feeders made especially to hold vegetation and sink to the bottom of the tank. This allows the turtles to feed as they would in the wild. Enjoy...

For our loggerheads and larger Kemp's ridleys, a part of their natural diet is hard shelled prey. To give them a hunting opportunity, we offer them live blue crabs. We clip the crab's claws to prevent any unnecessary injury to the turtles, but interestingly enough, most of the turtles disarm the crabs first anyways! The more "skilled" hunters remove both of the claws before moving on to the rest of the crab. Some of our turtles aren't that patient though, and just dig right in! It gets interesting when a blue crab hides under or near the rear end of our turtles to prevent being discovered. It's usually a short lived disguise. Occasionally once the chase is on, a blue crab will sneak through a pipe cuff....and from there on out the hospital staff gets a good laugh as the turtle swims around with the pipe cuff on it's head, convinced that's where the crab went! Check out our video below of Little Pritchard's short lived chase of a live blue crab!

Little Debbie, a large juvenile Kemp's ridley, is known for an entertaining crab chase. Follow this link for great footage of Little Debbie in action!

All of our live blue crabs are brought in by donation. Big shout out to our regular suppliers that help us feed crabs to the sea turtles year round: Terry Heinz - long time SCA volunteer and a dedicated crab supplier (pictured below), Bill Thorsby, Wilby Halsapple, Jim and the kids, Ernie, and Rachel Brennan - the turtles thank you!

We hope you're enjoying our enrichment blog series. Check back tomorrow for another blog, you won't want to miss out!

Megan and Kelly