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Turtle Hospital

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Mediterranean On the Rocks:
Turtle Hospital

The Mediterranean is a vacation paradise, unless you're a sea turtle. Like sea turtles all over the world, those in the Mediterranean face hazards from overcrowded beaches that threaten their nesting places to boats with lethal propellers. An aquarium in Naples has come to the rescue, giving injured and sick turtles a second chance.

Curriculum Links
National Science Education Standards
Activity: Invasive Ants



endangered species, reptiles




marine ecosystem

(Please visit the Subject-Area Search feature on this website for related Frontiers shows and activities!)


5-8: Structure and Function in Living Systems; Reproduction & Heredity; Populations & Ecosystems; Diversity & Adaptations of Organisms
9-12: Molecular Basis of Heredity; Biological Evolution; Interdependence of Organisms; Matter; Energy & Organization in Living Systems; Behavior of Organisms
5-8, 9-12: Understandings About Science & Technology
5-8: Populations; Resources & Environments; Natural Hazards; Risks & Benefits; Science and Technology in Society
9-12: Natural Resources; Natural & Human-induced Hazards; Science & Technology in Local, National & Global Challenges


Many species of sea turtles in the world are imperiled, largely because of human activity. Fishing, tourism and habitat destruction have all made life difficult for sea turtles. In this story, you'll see what efforts rescue workers in Italy are making to rehabilitate loggerheads and green turtles in the region.

In the 20th century, many animal and plant species became extinct and others were brought to the brink of extinction by activities like overfishing and overdevelopment. Another way people affect animal populations is by accidentally or deliberately introducing alien species, with disastrous effects for endemic (local) species.

One such alien species is the imported red fire ant, accidentally introduced into the U.S. in the 1920s, an event that resulted in serious and unintended consequences for other species. In this activity, you'll map how the imported red fire ant expanded its range. You'll also investigate the impact this alien species has on local species.


  1. Use information found at the following websites to track the spread of the imported red fire ant across the United States.

    Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

    Texas A&M Imported Fire Ant Research and Management Plan

  2. Draw or obtain an outline map of the U.S. (public libraries have outline maps available for copying), or enlarge the map below on a photocopy machine.

  3. Make a data table that indicates the date and location of each confirmed sighting of red fire ants. After the data table is complete, transfer information about places and dates onto the map.

  1. Study your map of how the imported red fire ant spread across the United States. How did it spread to other regions from its first introduction into Alabama?

  2. Based on the current range of the red fire ant, which states do you think are vulnerable to infestation? Is there a limit to the range the fire ant can conquer?

  3. What factors naturally limit the expansion of populations from one area to another?

  4. What has been the impact of the imported fire ant on the native fire ant? How does this situation compare with that of so-called killer bees and native honeybees?

  5. What are some of the problems that might occur when trying to control the red fire ant population with insecticides?

  6. Are there any examples of beneficial consequences from introduced species?


  1. Follow the same procedure as the activity above, but investigate the Asian longhorn beetle and compare its origin, current status, range of infestation, impact on other species and efforts to control it.

  2. Research alien plant or animal species introduced in your area and prepare a map that shows how the species spread to your area. For help, contact your local Department of Fish and Game or branch of the Department of Agriculture ( or County Extension Agent.

  3. Other invasive species to investigate could include: Plants: kudzu, purple loosestrife; Animals and insects: zebra mussels, starlings, gypsy moths, Africanized bees; Virus: plum pox.

  4. See Voyage to the Galápagos (Show 1001) and Expedition Panama (Show 801) for other activities on invasive species.

  5. Compare efforts made by MEDASSET (Mediterranean Association to Save the Sea Turtles) with rescue operations on other species of sea turtles in other countries. See a map of turtle nesting sites and find out more at Find out what students and environmentalists are doing to rescue sea turtles around the world at


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