#115 A year after boat shatters his shell, turtle swims free

Green Sea Turtle

Green Sea Turtle, photo by Iain via Flickr Creative Commons

Hundreds of supporters cheered on August 3rd as Andre, a 177 pound green sea turtle, crawled into the water and swam out of sight. A year ago no one was predicting he could be saved.

In June 2010, Andre was found on a Juno Beach sandbar, his shell shattered by two different propellers. Associated Press reported, “More than three pounds of sand were inside him, along with at least a couple of crabs, a raging infection and a collapsed lung. His spinal cord was exposed, pneumonia was plaguing him and death seemed certain.”

Fortunately for Andre, help was a few miles away. The staff at Loggerhead Marinelife Center specialize in conserving threatened and endangered sea turtles. Loggerhead veterinarian Dr. Nancy Mettee and her team set to work on the immediate, life-threatening injuries.

Dr. Alberto Vargas, a Jupiter, Florida orthodontist heard about Andre and offered to see what he could do to mend the turtle’s shell. Just as he would do with a human patient, Dr. Vargas took molds of the shell and used them to create orthodontic appliances to gather together the shattered remnants of the carapace (upper part of the shell).

The plucky turtle’s determination to live won the hearts of all who worked to save him and all who heard his tale. So when Andre was returned to the sea and began swimming away, a cheer went up from the crowd.

The first video shows some of the creative and determined people who worked to save Andre. The second lets everyone share the joy of his release.

Sadly, Andre could not survive in the wild, but the extraordinary efforts to repair his shell brought out the best in all his human companions.

Originally published on Care2

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4 comments for “#115 A year after boat shatters his shell, turtle swims free

  1. Carol Lynn
    August 17, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    How wonderful it is that Andre swims his oceans due to the care of so many good peoople who did not turn away but to him and gave him back his life. Such kindness lifts us all.

    • admin
      August 18, 2011 at 10:23 pm

      We are more human when we are acting humanely.

  2. Marilyn Raymond
    September 25, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    I love this story. It feels so rich to think of that turtle swimming away free and healed. I know we caused the injury in the first place but we didn’t leave him to die. If only we would care for all beings this way.

    • September 25, 2011 at 8:17 pm

      We are flawed, but so often we try to make up for our errors in ways that are truly inspiring. And so new beginnings are always going to be part of our lives. In the service this morning I was thinking how often I err…and start again.

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