14 June 2011

Florida's favorite turtle gets a little help from her friends

After an endangered leatherback mother turtle found herself unable to dig a proper egg cavity to correctly dispose of her eggs, Kelly Martin and her Loggerhead Marinelife Center team in Juno Beach, Florida, were there to lend a set of hands, or flippers you could say.

Clover, the extra-lucky turtle, is missing both of her rear flippers, and scars indicate that they were bitten off by sharks. Clover, as well as any other sea turtle with missing rear flippers, are unable to dig proper egg cavities, and this causes them to release their eggs onto the sand, where the eggs will not survive.

To help out, Martin and her wonderful team have been digging Clover's three-foot nests for her. Check out the team helping Clover here.

Clover was first spotted back in 2003, when she was only missing one flipper. It wasn't until 2007 when she was spotted without a second flipper as well. While she still has the base of that flipper, which moves as she attemps to dig, she cannot dig a hole all on her own.

Describing the digging process, Martin told CNN, "as she puts one flipper in, we take our hand and scoop out some sand. She'll switch sides and put the other flipper in. We're just kind of moving with her and trying to stay out of her way."

But when the eggs are released and the hole is finally filled, Clover doesn't just sit around and watch what people are doing for her. She instead helps pack the sand with the base of her flipper.

It seems Clover has quite a large support system as long as she stays near Florida's beaches.

"If she was to show up somewhere else, no one would be out there looking for her," said Martin. "It's just odd to us, and it's kind of ironic that she comes back to this beach where people are out there looking for her."

Turtle expert, Peter C.H. Pritchard, says that Clover's way of saying thanks is by filling those holes with eggs. Clover has filled seven holes this season, and this couldn't have been made possible without the help of some miraculous people.

Alexandra Hedin | Facebook | @Alexandra_Hedin
Alexandra is highly passionate about animals and animal rights, and wants to raise awareness of the cruelty that many animals suffer in the best way she knows how, and this is by written word. She is a recent graduate of Metropolitan State University in Minnesota, with a degree in Professional Writing and a minor in Creative Writing.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/qnr/3898226239  Photo is not of Clover