There is nothing we love more than to see our former patients and hatchlings head back to the places they belong!
Injured or ill turtles are nursed back to health and when ready, are released back to their home wetlands. Since most turtles are injured on roads, we take a good look at the area in which it was found and then release it to an ideal, nearby location (within 1 km), which is usually a swamp, small pond, lake, or stream. Sometimes this means trekking in through mud and swampy areas, so our volunteers know to have rubber boots or hip waders with them, and sometimes even a canoe is necessary. Turtles are never relocated to a new location – they spend 80% of their lives in the water and carry on them bacteria and micro-organisms found in that particular body of water. Transference of these could bring illness to other aquatic creatures or organisms in a different body of water. Turtles will also try to get back to their original habitat. It’s important that we don’t disturb an ecosystem – removing a turtle could be detrimental to the health of a body of water.
We also extract eggs from deceased turtles and incubate their eggs. Injured turtles that come in gravid (with eggs) are induced so that they can be released sooner. We incubate their eggs too. All hatchlings are released to their mother’s home wetland.
Finders of injured turtles often take part in the release. There is something special about watching a healed turtle swim off or hide in the weeds, when returned to their wetland. Seeing hatchlings enter a natural body of water for the first time is equally special.
We want to recognize the efforts of the many volunteers who sometimes drive hundreds of miles to make sure they get home, and to each finder who gets a turtle to us. Without the time, effort and commitment of so many, we could not do what we do here at the OTCC, and many of these turtles would not have survived.
Enjoy the photos and videos, below!