Sea Turtle Preservation Society Volunteers Work to Save Archie the Hawksbill Sea Turtle! With only 3 flippers this little guy washed ashore lucky to be found by Brevard county volunteers.
INDIALANTIC — Critically weakened, missing a front flipper, the baby hawksbill sea turtle plopped its tiny beak atop a digital scale, barely even wriggling.
Nicknamed Archie, the struggling reptile was discovered by a surprised couple Sunday in the Banana River, near a dock amid Cocoa Beach’s Thousand Islands.
“Because it’s such a rare turtle — very endangered — we’ll get him over to SeaWorld this afternoon and make sure that they get him some food and some nourishment,” explained Debby Livingston, a Sea Turtle Preservation Society board member, pointing a pen at Archie before a crowd of onlookers.
Archie weighs a mere 2.2 ounces and carries two white barnacles on his 75-millimeter carapace. Livingston surmised that he hatched a few weeks ago outside Brevard County, swam offshore to the Sargasso Sea, and was washed back in a clump of seaweed, exhausted.
“He is definitely having issues right now. He’s very lethargic. He’s probably not had anything to drink or eat. And he’s been thrown back from the Sargassum line — which is 25 miles away,” Livingston said.
Archie’s appearance stole the show during the Sea Turtle Preservation Society’s third annual World Sea Turtle Day celebration at its South Miramar Avenue storefront.
The Indialantic non-profit wildlife group’s open house also marked the birthday of Archie Carr. The pioneering conservationist’s namesake national wildlife preserve protects 20 miles of prime sea turtle nesting habitat in Brevard and Indian River counties.
Hawksbills are a federal endangered species and the Sunshine State’s rarest sea turtles, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reports. Adults can grow to 200 pounds, primarily on a diet of sponges.
Satellite Beach STPS volunteer Ann Zscheile detailed “washbacks” like Archie in her book, “Wilbur the Washback Sea Turtle.” This tome tells the tale of Wilbur, a baby loggerhead whose seaweed home was blown back to Brevard by Hurricane Noel in 2007.
Zscheile, who helped rescue Wilbur, later co-founded the organization’s Sea Turtle Emergency Response Program.
“They cannot make that swim again back to the seaweed. They’re exhausted. People put them back in the water, but they don’t have that yolk energy of a hatchling,” Zscheile said.
“They’re doomed, unless we pick them up,” she said.