Post Hurricane Turtle Rescue on Indian Beach, NC

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Sea turtles

Story and photographs by guest blogger Kim Merrels. 
Here’s the story of a wayward turtle, named “Squirtle” by his/her rescuers, as told told by Kim Merrels, long time Indian Beach resident and long time Cape Lookout Studies Program Volunteer:
“On Sunday, Sept.4, 2011, several of us were enjoying a beautiful afternoon on Indian Beach.  Jimmy Watkins noticed something crawling up the beach from the ocean.  We thought that it was a baby turtle.

A neighbor, Johnnie Tyson, put 3 little sticks around it, to “mark its spot in the sand.”
I called Keith Rittmaster to find out what to do, and he gave me the name and phone # of Matthew Godfrey, Coordinator of the NC Turtle Project.  When I talked to Matthew, he had me describe it to him, and he determined that it was a Diamondback Terrapin, a land turtle, rather than a sea turtle.  He also said that they live in brackish water like the sound, rather than in the ocean, and suggested if there were any way to return it to the sound, that would be the best thing to do.

I put it into the little bucket, and Reid Watkins, 16, daughter of Jimmy Watkins, who first saw it, drove Walker Woodall, age 6, his aunt, Susan Daniel, and me to Willis Seafood in Salter Path on the Sound to release “Squirtle” .

After letting the owners, Wade and Vesta Willis, know why we were there, Vesta explained that during Hurricane Irene the sound washed over the island to the ocean taking all kinds of critters with it. Walker, with a little help from Susan, released the turtle into the sound.  ‘Squirtle’ dove and surfaced twice, and then swam away — hopefully, to somewhere close to its original home.”  Kim 

Thanks Kim !!!
One of the easiest ways to tell a land turtle from a sea turtle is the land turtle will have clawed feet and the sea turtle will have flippers instead of feet.

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