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Wilde About Texas: Sea Turtle regains swimming ability
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Sea Turtle Inc. works to protect eggs and newly-hatched turtles on South Padre Island. Also, when a turtle is injured, they do what they can to restore it back to health and return it to the ocean.
Six years ago, a Central Texas family vacationing on South Padre Island found Allison, a young Green Sea Turtle who had just barely escaped a shark attack. The turtle lost three of its flippers. When she arrived at Sea Turtle Inc. the odds of her survival were slim.
"Once, flippered sea turtles were never ever saved. They were always put down," Sea Turtle Inc. David Cromwell said.
Thanks to a determined intern, the injured reptile was nursed back to health. Later, a visiting ER nurse saw the young turtle and demanded something be done.
"She turns around and she says, 'You are going to pursue a prosthetic for this turtle aren't you?'" Cromwell said.
From that suggestion, the idea to build an attachment for Allison was born. After several failures, one 21-year-old employee sketched out the idea for what would become a rudder-like attachment that keeps the turtle from spinning in circles.
"The first time she got to go in deep water out here, I'm not ashamed to say that when I saw her dive for the first time I had some wet spots," Cromwell said.
Allison now goes swimming in a deeper tank every day.
The majority of turtles Sea Turtle Inc. rescues are returned to the wild, but not Allison. She's staying put with a couple hundred pounds left to grow and an expected life span of more than 100 years.
Employees are hopeful that as technology improves so will Allison's quality of life.
"Until then what we've got is working really well," Cromwell said.
Experts believe that Allison's prosthetic will set a precedent that other rescue groups can follow.
You can learn more about Allison and watch her live on a webcam at SeaTurtleInc.com.