Paddy, Josie, Mad Dog, pick a name; one juvenile green sea turtle has gotten plenty of shore leave recently.
And, Bill Fauth, from among the ranks of the hearty volunteers who work so hard during turtle nesting season, received an opportunity to spend plenty of quality time with the young hardback.
Paddy, a turtle released back into the wild just two weeks ago along St. Joe Beach, is now back at Gulf World Marine Institute after being found stranded a second time since March.
This time, the turtle, and at that age, 5-10 years, likely younger due to its size, “he” and “she” are interchangeable, was found last Friday near Highland View.
Paddy, Josie, Mad Dog, whatever, the turtle had traveled eight miles from its release point in just over a week.
“I saw him on the edge of the surf,” said Barbara Eells of the Gulf and East Bay Turtle Patrol. “When I picked him up he just had his little flippers flapping, acting like he wanted to go, but just couldn’t.”
Eells kept the turtle in her bathtub overnight and the following day Fauth was called.
This, in the case of Fauth and this one turtle, was not the first time.
On March 19, Fauth was called by another resident who said a stranded turtle had been found on the south end of St. Joe Beach.
As it turned out, the turtle, whose name became something of a discussion in the days following its release, was found by a combat veteran visiting a local fellow veteran and his family.
The family had hoped, not knowing the process, to name the turtle “Mad Dog” in honor of the same fighting spirit shown, at varying times of their lives, by both rescuer and turtle.
The turtle had a compression fracture of its head, swelling around one eye.
“This is a special turtle because of the type of injury it had, whether from a boat prop or someone actually bashing it on the head or a collision with something larger,” Eells said. “And it didn’t have to take place, that what’s sad.”
In any case, Fauth arrived, took some photos, Eells completed some paperwork and the rest was up to Fauth to transport the turtle to Gulf World.
“Bill has really gotten into (turtling),” Eells said. “He has just gotten on our permit for stranding/salvage and he’s been diligent about it all.
“He has been one of our dedicated turtlers for many years.”
Upon arriving at Gulf World, unaware of any wishes from those who had found the turtle, Fauth turned the turtle over to staff, calling it “Paddy” due to the proximity of the date to St. Patrick’s Day.
“Taking the time to transport (a turtle) to Panama City Beach can be a good hour-and-a-half drive from here, so we all name the turtles we take there, except for cold-stun events,” Eells said.
Two weeks ago, Paddy was one of two turtles released in St. Joe Beach by Gulf World, the second one rehabbed from January’s cold-stun event.
Fast forward and when Eells found the young green turtle last Friday in Highland View, she had no way of knowing this was the same turtle.
Fauth also did not realize it while transporting the turtle to Gulf World last Saturday.
It’s not as if turtles are replete with distinguishing individual characteristics: scientists can not discern lots about sea turtles, including male from female until maturity.
Fauth arrived at Gulf World having given the turtle the moniker “Josie.”
After Gulf World folks swept up “Josie” for the rehab center, Fauth received a tour of the facility.
Near the end of the tour, a member of the Gulf World staff and told Fauth, “It’s Paddy.”
“Yep, Josie was Paddy,” Fauth said. “It turned out that Gulf World chips those (turtles) that are released to better track them and I’d say the system is working.”