Last week during the Whooping Crane Festival I had a chance to revisit the Amos Rehabilitation Keep (ARK). During my first tour a dozen years ago I was charmed by the charismatic and dedicated founder Tony Amos. With his British accent, twinkling eyes, and infectious enthusiasm it was easy to become a supporter of his efforts.
Sadly, in 2017, just over a week after Hurricane Harvey caused massive damage to the ARK facilities, Amos passed away. Thankfully, all the animals at the ARK survived the storm and the organization continues to fulfill Amos’ mission of rescuing and rehabbing sea turtles and migratory birds.
Though five of the world’s seven sea turtle species are found in the Gulf of Mexico the Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) is the most common patient at the ARK. The nearby Aransas Pass is an incredibly busy shipping channel, Corpus Christi is the 4th largest harbor by tonnage in the U.S. So it should come as no surprise that many sea turtles have been struck by boats.
The damage to their carapaces can cause air to get stuck inside, a condition called bubble butt. The air bubble makes the turtles more buoyant making it harder for them to feed and avoid predation and other dangers. Sometimes, the issue resolves itself as the turtle gains strength and the animal is released. (Note the discolored bump on the top of the shell. Not the best photo, I know but they are faster than you might think.)