Kramer the turtle will have a constructive existence long after the blood has left his, or her, body.

Kramer the turtle will have a constructive existence long after the blood has left his, or her, body.

A nearly intact juvenile sea turtle carapace, Kramer, so-named by the man who found him along the shore of St. Joseph Bay, recently provided a teachable moment for residents and visitors alike.

Turns out, the man learned, a sea turtle shell, carapace or skull, found along the beach is not just a shell or other memento of time in Gulf County.

This is not a keepsake, but a valued piece of the Sunshine State.

“As an individual, you can not possess a sea turtle shell,” said Jessica Swindall, volunteer coordinator for the St. Joseph Peninsula Turtle Patrol. “Only the state has the right to possess a sea turtle shell.”

Now, it is not uncommon, Swindall said, to find sea turtle shells, in a variety of forms and level of intact-ness, along St. Joseph Bay, particularly on the southern end.

Whether due to illness, a cold-stun or similar event, sea turtles perish.

In addition, intact shells, carapace or skull, are also not out of the norm.

“People find them regularly, at least once a month we will have reports,” Swindall said.

Sea turtles, however, are also a protected class of creature and therefore any measure to ensure harvesting a turtle is not a worthwhile proposition for said harvester has been taken by state government.

When local turtle patrols find a dead or stranded turtle, for instance, the skulls and carapaces are spray-painted to make them less attractive, and a stranding report completed to document the taking of whatever is left.

“Sea turtles are endangered and they want to devalue the value of a sea turtle,” Swindall said.

Swindall became aware of Kramer through a Facebook post and it took some degree of convincing to compel the man who found him to part with Kramer, named to honor the family dog.

But, convinced, the man agreed to part with it as a donation to the Sea Turtle Center established in Port St. Joe by the Florida Coastal Conservancy, the non-profit arm of the St. Joseph Peninsula Turtle Patrol.

“He was happy to do it and happy to know Kramer would serve an educational purpose,” Swindall said.

One last hoop, though, remained, as the Sea Turtle Center isn’t exactly permitted to possess the carapace, either.

However, after submitting paperwork and photos, the FCC is awaiting approval from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to display the carapace at the Sea Turtle Center.

“It is a juvenile green sea turtle and that is the most prevalent species we have on our beaches,” Swindall said. “It is a great specimen to show the size and shape of the turtle we see the most.”

Any finding of a sea turtle shell, carapace or skull, should be reported to the FWC Stranding Hotline at 1-888-404-3922.