Turtle in a cracked shell: Turtle power
Idaho welcomes state's first and only green sea turtle
We didn’t get the handsomest turtle. Video by IdahoOnYourSide.comvideo
We didn’t get the handsomest turtle.
“His shell – his carapace – was like cracked apart,” Idaho Aquarium marine biologist Stephanie Leonard said.
With a couple of bum rear-flippers, we didn’t get the most athletic turtle.
"[His injured flippers] prevent him from stopping,” Leonard said, “and turning on a dime like if he's chased by a shark."
But after a year of shelling out applications for permits and cash for specialists, our state’s first and only green sea turtle surfaced in the Idaho Aquarium for good.
"This is a major milestone for the state," Leonard said.
And one that’s sent Gem State marine biology fans turtle-waxing poetic.
Beam took a motorboat to the back, off the Florida coast in 2011. Turtle surgeons – yes, they exist – repaired him with cement and zip ties.
"He has a lot of air trapped in his shell," Leonard said.
That air bubble prevents him from diving or foraging for food. In a nut – or turtle? – shell, Beam can’t ever return to the wild. The Idaho Aquarium wanted him, hired Leonard and she went and fetched him.
"That was really, really tricky," she said.
See, turtles don’t fly. Every airline turned Leonard down – except Southwest. And so Beam, donning a coat of Vaseline to stay moist, passed through security and flew coach to Boise.
"With a seatbelt," Leonard said. "He's really used to people."
Green sea turtles live as long as 150 years and when full-grown – Beam’s between three and seven years old – can grow to as large as 400 pounds.
Turtle in a cracked shell. Turtle power.