In 2018, the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center (NBSTCC) made an impact on roughly 50,000 people from around the world, and a big part of that outreach has been done by one disabled juvenile green sea turtle named Sweet Pea.
Cathy Holmes said that’s a pretty great accomplishment for her first year of work.
“I am feeling really good and so is Sweet Pea,” Holmes said. “We did have that up and down with internal injuries and digestive issues, but her new diet is going great. She’s doing great, putting on weight. Her skin and eyes are looking really good.”
Through trauma, hurricanes and chronic illness, Sweet Pea came through as the NBSTCC’s leading animal ambassador all before she is even an adult.
Sweet Pea’s story starts with pollution.
In August 2016, the young turtle washed ashore wrapped in fishing line with severe internal damage due to ingesting some of the line. She was transported to Gulfarium in Fort Walton Beach for treatment.
Due to fishing line wrapped tight around one of her flippers, Sweet Pea’s front left flipper had to be amputated. She suffered internal gastrointestinal damage as well.
But this little turtle is a fighter.
Unable to survive in the wild, she found a new home at the NBSTCC in 2018.
In that first year, she made an impression on thousands of visitors through events and daily visitations.
“Conservation and education, that is one of the biggest things Sweet Pea does at the center. Her specific story talks about the human impact that she encountered,” Holmes said. “She has an interesting story of survival, and people love her. Not everybody has that opportunity to be that close to a sea turtle.”
By living as the example of the negative impacts humans can have on marine ecosystems, Sweet Pea helps facilitate conversation about protecting it Holmes said.
As time goes on, Sweet Pea is still growing, something she will do a lot of over the next few years.
Green sea turtles grow to be roughly 3.2 feet long and weigh up to 400 pounds according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. As a juvenile, Sweet Pea is only a fraction of that size. She was only the size of a dinner plate when she first came to the NBSTCC.
At last weigh-in she was 21.2 pounds, but the little turtle is gaining at a steady pace.
Holmes said they the team loves Sweet Pea and continues to find new ways to make her home here better.
“We hope to be able to provide her that forever home,” she said “For facilities like ours, it is crucial to provide an enriching environment and whatever medical care they need. We want to give her the best quality of life.”
And just as Sweet Pea continues to grow, so does the NBSTCC. Keep an eye out for new announcements to come. Visit Sweet Pea and all the turtle center residents this year, navarrelistings.com.