Meandering Life Rating: [usr 5]
Sea Turtle, Inc is a 501(c)(3) operating in South Padre Island, Texas. As their website states, “At Sea Turtle, Inc., our mission is to rescue and rehabilitate injured sea turtles for release back into the wildlife, educate the public, and assist with conservation efforts for all marine turtle species”. http://www.seaturtleinc.org
The public can tour their rehabilitation facility and learn about the sea turtles they rescue. Awesome experience and very sad at the same time. They have several sea turtles that will never be returned to the wild. Some were so badly injured they would not survive on their own. We learned that if a sea turtle is missing more than one of its flippers, it cannot be returned to the ocean. Some are missing flippers due to predation, but most are due to entanglement. Entanglement can be caused by discarded fishing line or plastics. Other sea turtles in their care cannot be returned due to genetic
defects or injuries sustained from boat propellers. Injuries from boat propellers can cause air pockets as in their shell as it heals. The air pockets cause problems with their buoyancy and ability to swim. At the facility, they use weights glued to the shell to offset the problem allowing them to swim normally. The air pocket can escape over time, but other times they never recover. If that happens, they cannot be returned to the ocean. Many sea turtle species are threatened or endangered (I believe they said 4 out of the 5 species in this area are in that boat). Because of that, those found with significant genetic defects are not released as they do not want to allow the genetic problems to spread throughout the population. Still others they rescue have a virus, Fibropapillomas. The virus was first discovered in Florida in 1938 and was first documented in Texas in 2010. The virus causes tumors to grow in the turtle’s soft tissue. They remove the tumors and if they do not grow back after a certain amount of time the turtles are released. If the tumors return continuously, they cannot release them. They also house a sea turtle with a prosthetic to help her swim. She was the first turtle to receive such a device. She is missing both of her back flippers and one of her front flippers. Before the prosthetic, she could only swim in circles. Now she is swimming circles around her bunkmate! We got to see her swim and eat some greens. It was so sweet. They also have many turtles that will get better and will be released at some point in the future!
They are currently upgrading their facility. The new facility will have a separate area that will house the long-term residents and the rehab turtles will still be on display for the public. I believe the upgrade also includes an expanded area for public education.
They do amazing work, so we were happy to visit and donate to their cause. Would definitely recommend stopping by if you are ever in the area or adopt a turtle on their website!