Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Story of Rocky Thyme

Some mothers got breakfast in bed for Mother's Day. Sea Turtle Preservation Society (STPS) volunteer Ann Zscheile spent hers rescuing a stranded sea turtle. Ann files the following report: On Mother's Day, we got a call about an injured sea turtle in the lagoon/canal that was struggling in the water and working hard to come up for air. The turtle was about 20 feet out, and the lady that called said it was in shallow water. She felt someone could wade out and pull the turtle ashore. They estimated the turtle to be about 24".
I called Adam and Gina, two of our new Sea Turtle Emergency Response Program (STERP) volunteers who have been interested in knowing more about helping with turtle strandings. Adam is a tall, strong AF guy (due to deploy to Iraq in July), and I was relieved when he and Gina agreed to come with me. Not only that, his parents drove ahead of us and guided us to the spot with their GPS. (They were visiting here for Mother's Day.) When we reached the area, we could see the turtle near a dock. The Horvaths (the owners of the dock) were watching and keeping track of the turtle. They told us they thought the rear flippers were missing.

As Adam approached the turtle in the water, she quickly made every effort she could to get away from him. He had to get behind her and grab her before she tried to duck under again. After he caught her, it was much easier to steer her toward the edge of the water.

When Adam lifted her up, we could see that she did have all four flippers.
Once we had her in a container for transport, we saw that she appeared to be bloated like the other turtles we have picked up in the lagoon recently. Also, we saw that at some point she had been struck by a propeller - she had a small wound on the central back part of her carapace and part of the outer shell on the left side was missing. Both wounds were not recent and had already healed. She seemed to have good movement of the right flipper, but not much movement of the left flipper. Not only that, she was covered with lots of hair algae and all sorts of wiggly creatures, which meant that she had been having trouble swimming for some time.

Michelle and Marie at the Marine Science Center, working their magic

After we got to the Marine Science Center in Ponce Inlet, Michelle checked her over and gave her some fluids for dehydration. Her blood sugar was fine, so she didn't need any glucose.

Rocky with the Horvath Family - this is a Mother's Day they'll remember!

The Horvaths named her "Rocky", but Michelle wanted me to add the name of an herb. She had a list to chose from! The one that went best was Thyme, so the turtle ended up being called Rocky Thyme.

Ann notes, The thing that struck me most was all the spunk this little turtle had - as much as she was struggling, she made a valiant effort to get away from that big guy that was headed towards her! Once at the MSC, she seemed relaxed and calm under the TLC of Michelle and the rest of the MSC "angels."

In a later update, Ann tells us that MSC found paps (papiloma virus, little caulifower-type growths) on Rocky Thyme, so she has been transported to The Turtle Hospital in Marathon, as that is the main place for treating paps.

I'd say that was a great Mother's Day for the Horvaths, Adam and Gina and Adam's parents, Ann, Michelle and Maria at MSC, and especially for Rocky Thyme. (Photos courtesy of Ann Zscheile)

Sea Turtle Preservation Society
Marine Science Center
The Turtle Hospital

1 comment:

Cactus Jack Splash said...

A wonderful Mother's Day story. I just wish that the little turtle had not been hurt, but glad she found a soft spot to land in.
Good luck and best wished to all