Did you know that oceangoing predators sometimes rip off sea turtle flippers? And that there’s an organization on South Padre Island, Texas, that cares for such injured animals?
It’s called Sea Turtle, Inc., and it’s located next to the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, as well as the Convention Center. This particular turtle is an Atlantic green turtle, but Sea Turtle had several species of turtles that live in the Gulf of Mexico, including the rarest, Kemp’s Ridley.
Here’s a turtle you should never, ever, try to pet: a loggerhead sea turtle, named for its large head. That jaw packs 1,000 pounds of force. He kept rising to the surface of the water and then sinking. Perhaps his behavior was caused by confinement, but I couldn’t help thinking he was trying to get me to stick my hand close to his snout. He didn’t need to breathe that often; loggerheads can wait 8 hours between breaths. Notice his blue eyes? This is the only blue-eyed loggerhead turtle in captivity. Not only is he unreleasable into the wild, but he kept eating all the fish in the zoo exhibit where he was placed. So the zoo sent him back to Sea Turtle.
Turtles are hungry creatures. They will eat just about anything, including all the plastic that keeps blowing into our oceans. The largest turtle species, the leatherback, reaches 8 feet long. Here’s Todd in a leatherback silhouette.And here’s one of the jellyfish it might eat. This one, which I found up the beach from the end of the road on South Padre, may be a man of war.