Turtle Rescue of the Hamptons Inc. only opened in May of this year but it is already making a difference, saving many turtles from terrible and sometimes grisly deaths.
The organization is located in a 1929 farmhouse in Jamesport, on the eastern part of densely populated Long Island. Turtles cannot help but come into contact with humans, with too-often tragic results: They are “hit by cars, dinged by boat propellers, hacked by lawnmowers or starved by ignorant owners,” says a Bloomberg article.
An x-ray of one box turtle revealed that he had been impaled with a 6-inch nail, all the way from his back to the bottom of his shell. Turtle Rescue’s director, Karen Tesla, even offered a $10,000 reward to “find the person who violated this poor, innocent animal.”
That person has not been found but the turtle, even with a punctured lung, is surviving.
Turtle Rescue keeps young or weak turtles until they can be released into the wild. One hatchling at the facility had been stepped on and, though one leg is paralyzed, is recovering. A female box turtle — Turtle Rescue’s first patient, as she was brought in the day it opened — has survived being hit by a car. Says Tesla:
“We were going to euthanize but said, you know what, let’s just try. Maybe it’s good luck — it was the first day we were open!”
“She is our success story,. he people who brought her in call once a week for an update.”
Indeed, the box turtle’s three eggs are now in one of the rescue’s incubators.
Not all the turtles will be able to return to the wild due to the severity of their injuries or to their becoming too tame. Turtle Rescue is turning its backyard into a sanctuary with ponds, running filtered water, an electrified fence to keep predators out and a cold frame greenhouse to separate box turtles from snapping turtles. The greenhouse itself is equipped with running water and “more fresh herbs than a farmer’s market” — sage, thyme, mint or oregano — as well as kale, lettuce, strawberry, blueberry and tomato.
Testa says that many of the turtles will indeed live at Turtle Rescue for the duration of their lives.
Turtle Rescue reminds Long Island residents to be on the lookout for turtles and their eggs when backing out of their driveways and mowing their lawns. Whoever pierced the box turtle with a nail may never be found, but that turtle and many others, with help from Tesla and volunteers, are going to make it.
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Photo by gb_packards