Honors College
 

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Major

Marine Science

Advisor(s)

Sara Lindsay

Committee Members

Kristina Cammen, Walter Golet, Christopher Mares, Paul Rawson

Graduation Year

May 2021

Publication Date

Spring 5-2021

Abstract

Seven species of sea turtle are found on earth and all are either threatened or endangered. Unfortunately, these animals are under duress due to numerous anthropogenic causes. The increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere has led to extreme global weather fluctuations, which leads to the cold stunning events seen among turtles in the north eastern United States every year. Illegal fishing practices and illegal boating lead to severe and critical injuries. Coastal development destroys integral nesting grounds. The rehabilitation of sea turtles is one solution to the preservation and conservation of these species. This thesis analyzes current rehabilitation protocols among multiple facilities and highlights the careers of conservation professionals in order to provide insight to undergraduate students interested in marine conservation.

After interviewing staff and researchers at three different institutions, I compiled and organized information regarding successes, unexpected outcomes, details of sea turtle patients’ injuries and histories, enrichment plans, and veterinary procedures (if applicable). The information was analyzed to determine similarities and differences in rehabilitation strategies and outcomes seen among the interviewed institutions.

All three institutions had similar baseline protocols for incoming patients. After these baseline protocols were completed, each institution also utilized creative solutions to continue care for the turtles that expanded past the baseline protocols. The study also identified how the normal protocols for each institution were affected by drastic changes, including the 2020 SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and climate change.

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