Turtle Hospital (Kaptan June Sea Turtle Conservation Foundation) is a foundation of volunteers which relies solely on public donations and the donations of worldwide universities, who send their veterinary students there, for hands on experience. The purpose of the Hospital is to help obtain valuable research, but also to help protect, rescue & rehabilitate the turtles, with the view to putting them back into the ocean - their natural environment.
While there, we saw baby turtles. We learnt that every morning, the volunteers go down to the beach to see if there have been any hatchlings overnight. If there have, they then dig down, into the nest, to see if there are any stuck in the nest - usually due to them being weaker than the rest. If there are any, they take them back to the Hospital and when they are of full strength, they are released back into the wild. These were super adorable!
However, there were some upsetting cases.
One had been brought into the hospital, that morning, (see the image to the left) because he was swimming lopsidedly. They stated that this is usually because there is an infection - and they believed this was as a result of it ingesting plastic.
They taught us that when turtles ingest plastic, this causes an infection. This infection then causes them to release gas. The gas is released & trapped, under the shell, which in turn creates an air pocket. Once the air pocket is present, this causes an unnatural buoyancy (known as a Buoyancy Disorder) in the turtles. This unnatural buoyancy prevents the turtles from being able to submerge, for food and become more vulnerable to boat strikes, predation and entanglements.
Seeing these turtles, in the large, unnatural, water containers, looking so downcast and completely defenceless, is what made us think - we may only be a small business, but there must be something we can do - and so, this is the reasoning behind our goal of becoming a plastic free, more eco-friendly, small business by 2021!