Thursday, March 28, 2013

Sandcastles and Sea Turtles

Happy Easter!  We returned to South Padre Islands to check out several sandcastles.  The one above we found at the Welcome Center of the island.   We found another outside of the South Padre Travelodge Motel, part of it is pictured below.  Currently there are three sandcastles,  and we found them all.
Reportedly the sandcastles are built and maintained by Sons of the Beach Sand Castle Wizards.  After viewing the sandcastles we drove to Sea Turtles, Inc.  This "enviro-friendly" organization is dedicated to caring for and educating the public about endangered seat turtles.  One thing I learned is that it is not good to pick up a turtle by its shell without supporting the tummy.  That is similar to you being picked up by your finger, toenails or hair.  Pictured below is Gerry, a green sea turtle.  His shell is light olive green.  I am not sure what he weights now, but he can weight up to 500 plus pounds, eating primarily sea grass and marine algae.  The center feeds him romaine lettuce-  he consumes 500 heads of it per year.
Many of the sea turtles we saw in the center arrived there because of injuries they sustained from predator attacks, pneumonia, line and net entanglements, infections, bowel obstructions from balloons, and plastic bags.  Some have had run-ins with boats which have either wounded or removed their flippers.  Allison, the Atlantic green sea turtle, pictured below, had an accident which left her with one flipper.  Summer interns since 2005 have been working on a variety of prosthesis  to replace flippers, many of which did not do well for the turtles.  One was green in color- that did not last long as the other turtles thought it was a piece of lettuce and nibbled on it!  What worked for Allison was a prosthesis which works as a rudder- it stabilizes her in the water as she swims about with her one flipper.  She cannot be returned to the ocean, but many of the turtles cared for in the center are returned to the wild.
We found the intensive care unit for the center in the gift shop.  There small kiddie pools hold turtles who need special medical attention.  The center is in the middle of a capital fund drive.  Hopefully if enough money is raised they can purchase five more holding tanks with life support systems, as well build an education center and amphitheater.  Before ending this posting I want to mention another activity of the center, which is nesting beach patrols.  Volunteers from the center protect sea turtle nests through the spring/summer. incubation period.  Hatchlings found stranded on the shore are brought into the center and cared for until they reach the size of a dinner plate, and then are returned to the wild.

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