Sea turtles can grow to five hundred pounds and range widely over the world’s oceans.
They mysteriously return to lay eggs on the same beach where they were born and man has been one of their biggest enemies since their meat is tasty, their shells can be fashioned into ornaments, and body parts dried and ground into Oriental medicine.
A sea turtle rescue center operates on South Padre Island’s Gulf Shores Drive, towards the north end before you reach a National Seashore. Volunteers staff it, donations keep it alive, and injured or sick turtles inhabit a series of lined swimming pool tanks inside.
Some turtles are victims of boat propellers, some get injured in fishing nets, some lose limbs to sharks. Life as a turtle has dangers and crossing oceans isn’t for the faint of heart. When the turtles are recovered from their setbacks, they are released back into the Gulf, tagged, monitored, and celebrated.
Allison is a current resident turtle with a prothesis. Losing a tail, she has been fitted with a rubber one that lets her glide in her small tank like a Gulf War veteran with new robotic legs. Victims of carelessness, malice, chance, turtles are easy to love and people love to buy turtle memorabilia in the gift shop.
Man too has tragedies to overcome.
Our safety tanks take the form of halfway houses, hospitals, psych wards, jails, and churches.
There are days we don’t want to be released into the world again, either.