Animal rehabilitation center uses honey to heal sea turtles

While honey is often associated with bees and bears, the Amos Rehabilitation Dungeon in Port Aransas uses this substance to cure sea turtles.

ARANSAS PASS, Texas — While honey is known for its sweet taste, some may not have known that the substance also has healing properties.

In Port Aransas, The Amos Rehabilitation Keep (ARK) uses the sticky substance in its efforts to cure sick sea turtles. Dr. Shayna Whitaker is one of the vets who uses the all-natural sugary substance to treat injured sea turtles like Olaf.

“So when we have wounds, we use it as a topical treatment,” Whitaker said. “We use it because it has antimicrobial properties and it has antibacterial properties.”

Whitaker said Olaf benefited greatly from the honey treatment.

“We’re hoping for that in 15 or 20 minutes, but it’s having some of the effects that we’re hoping for,” Whitaker said.

Although it seems odd that honey is used to treat injured sea turtles, Whitaker said there have been studies showing the treatments work.

“There are many different studies where they actually went forward and found that it worked with sea turtles and wounds healed,” Whitaker said.

The rehab center gets the honey from the Fennessey Ranch in Bayside, Texas. Program coordinator Alicia Walker said they started using the honey treatments about five years ago.

The ARK spent quite a bit of money each year buying raw honey before the ranch stepped in to help.

“One year we spent about $600 on raw honey,” Walker said. “And now we’re spending nothing thanks to this partnership with the Fennessey Ranch.”

The partnership helps ARK Rehabilitation care for sea turtles. They believe that honey provides a sweet ending to most cases.

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Benjamin M. Yerger