Initially, sea turtles lose weight the first days they are in Rehab. Attempts to interest them in eating is often challenging since the foods they eat in the wild are not the same as our offerings. In addition, they are often suffering from a physical problem(s), and are experiencing stress from their current, unfamiliar environment. Simply being confined in a tank with new sights, sounds, and smells can introduce stress and the animal may need to find a comfort level before it can feed normally. As a result, our patients are prone to losing weight at the beginning of their stay in Rehab.

Working with veterinarians has taught us the foods that have appropriate nutrients and are readily accessible through our suppliers, but they may look a little different to the turtles. We may use fish (sardines, mackeral, capelin), shrimp, or squid to entice a turtle. Using frozen, thawed food means that we might have to move the food around with long tongs like it’s alive until the turtle gets used to eating in the rehab environment.

It is often difficult to get the preferred wild choices for sea turtles. Loggerheads, for example, prefer horseshoe crabs and whelks, which certainly aren’t sold at the grocery store! As caretakers, we try to be creative with our sea turtles because getting them to eat enough is on the top of our list!

  “EL”   CC-KRC-12-08-17-01     8/17/12  140 lb.        11/05/12  136.62 lb.
Weigh-in took place 11/5/12 after feeding and draining of the tanks. Ms. El was first in line and, tho she is well-known for her sweet temperament, our lady got nasty and demonstrated the reason we are all told not to approach a sea turtle from the front. Sweetness became a wide-mouthed reptile looking for a target.

Weight gain: 5.51 lb. since her last weigh in on 9/27. 
 “LOU”   CC-LLB-12-10-09-01      10-9-12   154 lb    11/5/12   145.2 lbs
Lou is not as social as El (which is good!) and “spooks” easily. Being lifted from his tank is probably more stressful for him than for El. Everyone is aware of this and is careful to be as gentle as possible, considering they are lifting a 145 lb turtle.
Weight loss: 8.8 lb. since his initial weight on arrival 10/9/12. Lou started eating 5 days after his arrival and is now eating well. There should be a gain on his next weigh-in.