This loggerhead sea turtle was on his last limb when rescuers found him.
Marine life as a whole is severely threatened by a huge variety of human-driven factors, such as climate change, run-ins with fishers, pollution, and habitat loss, but all species of sea turtles are especially at risk during this critical time of environmental disasters. Since March is Sea Turtle Awareness Month, right now is the best time to call attention to the plight of sea turtles and advocate for their conservation.
Dozens of stories make the news monthly about sea turtles that need help from humans, such as the removal of netting they’re caught in, and the latest is the story of a sick sea turtle that washed up on the shore, presumably to live out his last moments. On the shores of Hutchinson Island, Florida, a loggerhead sea turtle let himself be swept in by the tide and just lay on the shore until someone found him.
Affectionately named Blitzen because he was found on Christmas Eve, the lonely turtle looked to be in poor shape, and the beachgoers that happened upon him decided to help him and call Gumbo Limbo Nature Center (GLNC) in Boca Raton, Florida.
“They got him out of the water and kept him shaded until help arrived,” Kristin Child, environmental program coordinator for GLNC, told The Dodo. She explained that if the locals hadn’t found Blitzen, he likely would have died soon.
Thankfully, that potential tragedy did not come to pass because Blitzen was found just in time and brought into GLNC for treatment and rehabilitation. Just as was suspected, the poor turtle was extremely unhealthy and needed immediate medical attention.
“Blitzen was covered in barnacles, emaciated, dehydrated, and had a wound on the back of his head,” Friends of GLNC wrote on Facebook.
The post also mentioned that Blitzen was severely underweight, weighing in at only 130 pounds when sea turtles of his age typically weigh about 250 pounds. This was very alarming, but not uncommon for a sea turtle battling a deep head wound and barely surviving.
The rescue team set to work on stitching up his head wound, which was likely going to lead to infection and was probably very painful since it was an open wound for an unknown amount of time. The barnacles were removed and Blitzen has already gained 30 pounds, thanks to his love of squid and shrimp popsicles.
“Shrimp frozen in ice are an enrichment tool,” Child explained. “[It] helps keep his powerful jaws active.”
He also receives regular medical treatments, topical honey applications to soothe his skin, fluids and tons of food to encourage a healthy weight. Thanks to the locals who found him and the center that rescued him, he’s expected to be released back into the wild sometime in early summer. If you would like to help with Blitzen’s recovery, you can donate to the GLNC here.
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