Monday, June 30, 2008

Sea Turtle Rescue

Island Reporter News Article
Monday, June 30, 2008 — Time: 3:37:14 PM EST

Parasail captain rescues sea turtle; Injured loggerhead rehabs at CROW

A loggerhead sea turtle, struggling to stay alive while being treated at the Clinic for the Rehabilitation Of Wildlife (CROW), has one man to offer its thanks to.Capt. Derek Elzerd of Estero Island Parasail spotted the injured turtle about 50 yards offshore from the Pink Shell Beach Resort on Sunday.According to Elzerd, he had just pulled out from the Pink Shell in the late afternoon when he spotted the injured sea turtle and decided to take a closer look."We see turtles occasionally and I take a look at them because they’re pretty neat animals," he said. "They usually dive and swim away when they see a boat near them. He kept taking breaths so I knew he wasn’t dead, and he didn’t look like he had been hit by a boat or anything."Elzerd said he became alarmed by the behavior of the turtle and called the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission for help. He was eventually put in contact with Eve Haverfield of Turtle Time, Inc., the organization that monitors turtles on Fort Myers Beach."I said, ‘I’m hanging out with this turtle and you’ve got to come and get him,’" Elzerd said. "Eve said, ‘We kind of rely on volunteers like yourself and could you get him to shore?’ I said, ‘Well, I guess I could give that a shot.’"Elzerd said he tried to cover the turtle with a tarp as Haverfield had suggested and bring him to shore but the turtle didn’t like to be covered up."He didn’t really want anything to do with the tarp so I got into the water with him," he said. "I just kind of swam to shore with him."Elzerd said the turtle was too weak to dive or swim away from him."I just used the buoyancy of my life jacket to keep us both up," he said. "He tried to dive on me but he was so weak he couldn’t. An animal that large should very easily have been able to break free of me."Elzerd said he was assisted by a man on a jet ski who used a rope to help gently pull him and the injured turtle to shore."He would give me a little extra tug every now and then," he said.Eventually, Elzerd was able to bring the turtle to shore where Carol Lis, a volunteer with Turtle Time, transported the turtle to CROW on Sanibel."I was a little worried about the turtle and wasn’t sure if he was going to make it," Elzerd said.As of press time, the loggerhead turtle was resting comfortably at CROW’s clinic, Haverfield said, adding that she was gratified by Elzerd’s heroic actions."The fact is that he went above and beyond," Haverfield said. "He stayed with that turtle and made sure that it was safe all the way to the point that the turtle was transported to CROW. I’m just extremely grateful for people taking the initiative with this imperiled species. Lis, a volunteer with Turtle Time, transported the 120-pound turtle to Sanibel."We put a wet towel on her to make sure she didn’t dry out," Lis said. "They put her in a kiddie pool on a big piece of foam with some wet towels to kind of cushion her and support her. They were going to take some radio graphs or x-rays to see if there was anything internally blocking her. She appeared to be really emaciated like she hadn’t been eating."“We’re all a team out there on Fort Myers Beach,” Haverfield added. “And the people are just extending themselves to help the sea turtles."

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