The next morning I headed to Quincy to the NEAQ’s rescue and rehab facility. I began the day staring at a large warehouse with no idea where to go in, luckily I found the right door and entered an immense building full of tanks. Once things got started we began our day on food prep. Some of the turtles get a special diet, some will only eat certain foods, and some need to get certain medicines. Once the food is all set, we begin to feed them. It was not unlike feeding the penguins, as the amount each turtle eats is documented and the medicines given to them are recorded. I came when almost all the turtles were gone, and it was still difficult to make sure each turtle got their food, I can’t imagine what it would be like during the busy season. There were about 7 or so turtles when I was there… during the busy season there can be over a hundred turtles in the facility! Like most other facility’s in the aquarium, when you aren’t doing something else, you are cleaning. Sanitation is very important and almost all the rooms have drains so they can be scrubbed with vikron, a disinfectant that neutralizes in salt water, and just washed right down.
After the feeding, a few turtles needed a quick check-up. The turtles are carefully moved from their tanks, into a dark, padded container to keep them calm. Then they are moved one room over to be checked up. The vet gives them a basic check up, examining their shells for any markings or wounds and also examining a few other areas. Laslty moved back and placed happily back into the water. The turtles left at the facility were only small, 15lb Kemp Ridley sea turtles. I think the checkups could get a little more difficult with some of the larger loggerheads!
The next day I headed into Boston to spend the day with the aquarium’s medical team. To begin they briefly explained what they do, then things started moving. A penguin had to be examined first, and then we went to do a quick checkup on a sea lion. The checkup was performed during one of the shows, so they could get him to stay on the deck! It was amazing to see how well trained and graceful the seals and sea lions were. After lunch we returned to the sea lions, the largest one had a small tear on one of his flippers. Again, this was done during the show in front of everyone, it was done very quickly and smoothly. After that a few interns gave presentations on various fish-related diseases, then I headed home a bit early to rest up for my big day in the Giant Ocean Tank!