Heidi Bell, a 10-year-old New Hampshire girl who has raised nearly $1,800 selling turtle-themed crafts for sea turtle rescue, visited the New England Aquarium’s marine animal hospital in Quincy.

She took a VIP tour on Friday morning and saw some of the sea turtles that have benefited from her hard work and dedication, including a 300-pound adult female loggerhead named Munchkin.

Over the past year, Heidi spent many days creating sea turtle shopping bags, bracelets, and figurines and sold them outside a local shop in her hometown of Peterborough, N.H.

Heidi Bell visits Quincy Animal Care Center
Heidi Bell shows some of her creations at the Aquarium's animal care center in Quincy on Friday. Photo: Connie Merigo

Described by her parents as always being an animal lover and very caring, Heidi was inspired into action when internationally bestselling nature writer Sy Montgomery spoke at Heidi’s school about endangered animals. Montgomery, who also lives in the Monadnock region of New Hampshire and has a longstanding relationship with the Aquarium, joined Heidi and her father on Friday’s tour.

Heidi not only sold her products, but passionately spoke to customers about the challenges faced by sea turtles in the oceans – from plastics pollution to entanglement and loss of habitat.

Heidi Bell makes her crafts
Heidi Bell works on her crafts. Photo: Bell family

Heidi’s visit came as the sea turtle stranding season on Cape Cod has wrapped up. Since late October, the Aquarium’s marine animal hospital admitted 430 endangered and threatened sea turtles suffering from hypothermia and other medical problems that have stranded on Cape Cod.

More than 300 warmed and medically stabilized sea turtles have been driven and flown to other aquariums and marine animal rescue centers up and down the East Coast to complete their rehabilitation before they are released back into the ocean.

The remaining turtles are a mix of mostly young dinner plate-sized Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, the most endangered sea turtle species in the world, and threatened loggerhead sea turtles that weigh from 30 to 300 pounds.

Heidi watched feedings of the recovering sea turtles, out-of-water medical exams and procedures, and X-rays of turtles with pneumonia. She also learned how a sea turtle is slowly warmed over several days and what is required to nurse a sea turtle back to health.