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Amelia SanJon Gallery
Amelia Island Artists Workshop
Sandra Baker-Hinton
218A Ash Street., Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
904-491-8040,  904-557-1195 cell
Amelia Island Artists Workshop (for workshop schedules)

Just when I thought I was through with Sea Turtle Hatchlings, these cuties showed up on my doorstep.  The artist who created them came to the gallery while I was at my mom's and left these youngsters in search of a home. 

The ornaments are going to be a great addition for any turtle lover's tree.  They are sculpted over a large size glass ornament.  Each is individually made with no two alike.  The ornaments sell for just $45 right now.  The base-mounted sculptures are in varying sizes and prices.  These are all Green Sea Turtles but the artist has promised some Loggerheads soon.  The artist, Linda Siersma, is from LaGrange, Georgia.

Heart-Warming Story this week!
Once again the Georgia Sea Turtle Center has gifted us with a very special event, the release of some beautiful "rehabbed" Sea Turtles.  Thankfully I returned from Tennessee in time to see this.  These turtles were found in Florida waters, and therefore must be released into Florida, although a few strong swimming strokes and they could easily be back in Georgia.
Our work here is so involved with the hatchlings that sometimes we have to be reminded that these little guys do grow up, and rather quickly that first year.  The first and smallest was Duval, a juvenile Green Turtle, so named because it was found in Duval County down in the Jacksonville area.  When found, Duval had been weak, but after receiving treatment, is now well enough to go back into the sea.  It is important to get them back into the water before the water temperatures get any colder.
There was quite a crowd of the curious, and supporters of the Sea Turtle work, gathered to launch these very special visitors.  Many of the Turtle Patrol Volunteers were in attendance, as were some Jacksonville TV stations.
The Green Turtles have such beautiful markings on their flippers, back and especially their heads.
How many ways can you release a Sea Turtle into the water? 
Several ways, but they all seem to involve getting wet.  The small ones are always taken out into the water far enough that they can make it beyond the surf without getting tossed around too much.
This is Marti who is almost adult size.  I believe it had the Pappilloma Virus which infects a lot of the Green Turtles and if left untreated can be fatal.  This virus has not been seen very much in our area but as with most infectious viruses it is now spreading here.  The virus is one of the Herpes type viruses.
Dr. Terry Norton is the head of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center a rehabilitating hospital on Jekyll Island.  He is right there overseeing each step of this release but letting his young assistants learn with a hands-on approach.
We had a bit of excitement at the edge of the water as between the first and second release a fairly large, 5' or so, shark was in about a foot of water just beside the last people who were standing in the water's edge, waiting on the release.
Quite a handful.  The Green Turtles are herbivores, eating only plants, algae, mosses, etc.
It almost looks like our young assistant is going to do a little turtle boogie-boarding as the waves begin to break around her.  After a few tries Marti was on his way.
Then it was time for the "Big Girl', Squall.  Each turtle is named for an event, a place, or a person who is involved in finding them and getting them to the Center for treatment.  Squall had lost her right front flipper to a shark bite.  She was found by the Georgia Bulldog Boat which was out doing turtle studies, with fresh shark bites to her flipper and plastron.  After receiving treatment, including antibiotics, they felt she was ready to go back into the wild.  It took a lot of people to carry this big girl to the water.  The staff had evidently made going away signs for their recent charges with well wishes and signed by all.
With the adult turtles of this size, they like for them to make their own way into the water.  She sat for a while studying the situation.  Then she was ready to move slowly ahead, for the first time, with only one flipper.
We know that this is a female because she dropped some of her eggs in her holding tank.  X-rays and ultrasound showed she still had eggs inside.  She was given a drug to stimulate her to drop the rest of her eggs.  I wonder what they did with them.  Dragging that heavy body across the sand without the aid of that right flipper was much more difficult.
I love the rich colors of the Loggerhead and their big, big head.  That was why I choose the Loggerhead for my subject this year for the Turtle Trot T-Shirt.  Although the Green Turtles have pretty patterns on their heads they always look like their head is a bit undernourished to me in comparison to their body.  The Greens do grow to be larger than the Loggerheads by about a 100 pounds.
The water will help with the weight as she will become more buoyant once she can get a bit deeper.  Probably 95% or more of our Sea Turtles are Loggerheads, although we are getting more and more Greens and Leatherbacks these days than in the past.
Turtles have such beautiful eyes.  The red which is on her wound and her mouth is Red Algae and not blood.  It is not harmful.  Sea Turtles do not have teeth but the Loggerhead which does eat crustaceans as well as plants has a crushing bite with this massive parrot-like beak.  Since the Greens are strictly herbivores they don't need such a massive beak.
Her friend and mentor, Dr. Norton, slowly escorts her, correcting her path when she gives in to the less strong side with the missing flipper.
Good luck Squall, you big, beautiful girl!!  I hope I see your tracks on our beach in the near future.  It will be a distinctive track for sure.  Although with the Loggerhead, their back flippers leave most of the track imprints, we often see them have unusual and distinctive tracks telling us that they may be missing all or part of a flipper, but usually its a rear one.  A Loggerhead is a bit testy and will chase a shark, but sometimes get caught off guard when approached from the rear as they come up for a breath.
In she goes.  Her small tracking device attached to her back will help in a study with which the Turtle Center is involved in which turtles with disabilities like Squall has.
I am sure she is happy to be home.
I only put this photo in because I saw one of "my" older Turtle Trot T-Shirts on the assistant with the bullhorn from the Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch.
We thought we had seen the last of Squall until a few minutes later, when someone spotted her.  With that missing flipper, she had taken a right curving track, and her path became a semi-circle back to shore. 
Dr. Norton and his crew quickly ran to the rescue.
It seems she will have a bit of re-learning to do as she manages with a physical handicap such as this, but I am sure she will learn to compensate and will fare just fine.  In a few days you will be able to track her progress on the Sea Turtle Center's website, link>> Look for Squall, (there are three active Loggerhead signals).  The Georgia Turtle Center staff stands and watches this time, to be sure that she is not going to come back in, but it looks like she is on course, and out to sea.

(Please take a moment to consider:
These photo-stories have always been offered completely free, to simply share the wonders of nature, and life on the Island. Thousands of hours have been poured into them and it has even become necessary to enlist the services of a paid email service to send out the large numbers who now receive them. So, with the current economic situation if you are able to make a small donation to help ensure the continuation of the stories it would be greatly appreciated.)

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