In the wake of Hurricane Ian, the Brevard Zoo in Florida is caring for hundreds of baby sea turtles that were brought there in the storm’s aftermath.
The zoo announced on Saturday that its Sea Turtle Healing Center was helping more than 200 baby sea turtles, which included species such as green, loggerhead and hawksbill. The Sea Turtle Preservation Society brought the tiny reptiles from the Cape Canaveral area to the center on Thursday.
The arrival of the hundreds of sea turtles did not come as a surprise to the zoo, which said many Atlantic coast sea turtle rehabilitation facilities were receiving the animal following the storm.
The zoo said that “major weather events like hurricanes can waylay baby sea turtles” caught in the storm or making their first swim into the ocean. The storms can also disrupt offshore patches of seaweed that give the sea turtles shelter and food.
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, according to the zoo. 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,” zoo officials continued.
Staff and volunteers at the center will take care of the turtles until ocean conditions improve.
Hurricane Ian carved a path of destruction through Florida after making landfall last week as one of the most powerful storms to hit the U.S.
At least 68 people have been confirmed dead: 61 in Florida, four in North Carolina and three in Cuba.