HEATHER-LYNN’S HABITAT: Watch out for Bobby
IT BROKE OUT of a kiddies’ pool – twice.
They put it on the East Coast where the grass beds were closer to the surface, but it made its way back to the easier pickings of the West Coast.
In fact, said officials of the Barbados Sea Turtle Project (BSTP), they have tried everything to help a juvenile green turtle which has problems diving, and the next step might be to relocate it to a rehabilitation facility in the United States.
But until then, the field director of the Barbados Sea Turtle Project, Dr Darren Browne, wants concerned divers and tourists to know that the project was aware of the wilful juvenile turtle.
Browne, who contacted Heather-Lynn’s Habitat about the injured green, said that back in May, the project received a number of calls about a turtle which was floating and appeared unable to dive.
The project investigated and eventually captured Bobby in the waters off the Lone Star Restaurant and Hotel in St James. The turtle was taken to the Central Veterinary Clinic where she was diagnosed as having been struck, by a boat, at the rear of the shell.
There were signs of possible nerve damage at the base of the spine which partially immobilised her rear flippers and, while there was no clear sign of an air pocket under the shell, the buoyancy was possibly due to a bacterial infection, the veterinarian said.
The turtle was given a course of antibiotics but that had no effect on her buoyancy. About two weeks after she was captured, and after being deemed to be in good health, she was released at Bath, St John, “to allow the problem to resolve on its own in an area where shallow sea grass beds would compensate for her inability to dive”.
But two weeks later, said Browne, the project started to receive reports of a turtle floating in the Lone Star area.
It was Bobby.
“Even with partially paralysed rear flippers and a floating rear end, she had swum around the island and returned to the site.”
The turtle was recaptured, re-examined and released, this time on the South Coast.
Within a week, Bobby had made her way back to Lone Star.
“We really need to let everyone know we tried everything. It’s sick in the sense that it can’t dive but it’s otherwise healthy,” Browne said.
“All we can do is alert the public that this is an ongoing situation. Bobby obviously prefers to feed in the Lone Star area, and is willing to swim halfway around the island to access the fish and other foods offered by snorkellers in the area.
“She has become much more dependent upon this food source than her natural diet of sea grass and algae because of her condition,” he said.
“We are investigating the feasibility of moving this turtle to a rehabilitation facility in the USA where she can be cared for in a protected environment.”
Browne surmised it was Bobby’s love for the Lone Star feeding ground that possibly led to her injury.
And he is begging captains of boats and other watercraft in the area to be on the lookout, since another blow to Bobby might cause an even more debilitating injury. If there is an incident, please call the Turtle Hotline at 230-0142.