The Real Story of Eartha the Sea Turtle

click for larger image On April 21st, 2008, marine biologists at the St. Lucie Power Plant on Hutchinson Island observed a loggerhead sea turtle near the plant's intake pipes. The biologists often encounter turtles in the area and observe their actions in order to determine their health. But today, something did not seem right with the sub adult turtle, so they contacted the Loggerhead Marinelife Center.

click for larger image With April 22nd being Earth Day, there was only one name for this youthful sea turtle, Eartha. When Eartha arrived at the center she was diagnosed with an infection, and a low red blood cell count. She was also a bit underweight, at only 86 pounds. She was put on a series of antibiotics, and cared for by the staff at the marinelife center.

Over the months she spent with the center, visitors from all over we able to see her, and monitor her progress. Large tanks, with window view ports, allow visitors to see her, and her to see them.

May and June came and went, with Eartha's health improving for a future release to the ocean. She continued her antibiotic treatment into July, and gained an additional 13 pounds in 2 months. Eartha was scheduled for release.

Eartha though, had other plans. On August 28th, Eartha swallowed her flipper tag. The sea turtles are tagged before they are released, and apparently Eartha didn't want to leave the luxury of the Marinelife Center.

After a few weeks of x-rays to track the "progress" of the tag, Eartha was rescheduled for release on October 5th, 2008.

The weather reports called for scattered thunderstorms, but that didn't stop people from coming. Local citizens, nature lovers, the news media and more poured into the center to see Eartha off.

click for larger image The LMC staff explained the entire process to the crowd. They would place Eartha is a large container on her back to measure the bottom of her shell. They would then lift her onto a stretcher, strap her in, and take her across the street to the reserved area of the beach where she would be released. Eartha would be required to make the trek from the beach area, into the water on her own. This is a natural function for the loggerhead turtle, and it was important that she make the journey herself.

click for larger image Within the blink of an eye, as soon as she hit the surf, Eartha was gone. For a brief short months, she touch our lives, bringing wonderment and sense of connection to the sea with her. Although there are still many man made dangers that could await Eartha in the ocean, her visit to the Loggerhead Marinelife Center has educated hundreds of people on those dangers we, as aliens to the ocean world, inflict upon it. Due the care of her friends at the LMC, she has the entire ocean in front of her.

Although Eartha is no longer a resident at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center, there are many other sea turtles that need your help.

Visit their web site and learn how you can help through education, donations or by adopting a sea turtle.

Loggerhead Marinelife Center

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All photographs are © Copyright Daniel Bodenstein. Reproduction is prohibited without written permission.