When a loggerhead sea turtle washed up on the shores of Hutchinson Island, Florida, he was lucky someone was there to spot him.
Now known as Blitzen – because he was found on Christmas Eve – the sea turtle was in terrible shape. He might have died if locals hadn’t rushed to help him.
“They got him out of the water and kept him shaded until help arrived,” Kristin Child, environmental program coordinator for Gumbo Limbo Nature Center (GLNC) in Boca Raton, Florida, told The Dodo.
Blitzen isn’t the only sea turtle who has fallen on hard times. Indeed, because all species of sea turtles in the world are threatened by of habitat loss, pollution and run-ins with boats and fishermen, rescuing turtles like Blitzen becomes even more important for the future survival of the species.
When Blitzen was first admitted to the rescue center, he was underweight at just 130 pounds. Adult loggerheads generally weigh about 250 pounds.
“Blitzen was covered in barnacles, emaciated, dehydrated, and had a wound on the back of his head,” Friends of GLNC wrote on Facebook.
Veterinarians gave Blitzen surgery to close the wound on his head.
Since then, he’s been recovering. His rescuers have been giving him medical treatments, topical honey applications to soothe his skin, fluids and a healthy diet to make him stronger.
And all that work has been paying off. He’s already gained 30 pounds, thanks to his fondness for squid and shrimp popsicles.
“Shrimp frozen in ice are an enrichment tool,” Child explained. “[It] helps keep his powerful jaws active.”
And soon Blitzen will be strong enough to be wild again. “We expect a full recovery and anticipate his release in early summer,” Child said.
To help GLNC rescue more animals like Blitzen, you can make a donation.