Green Sea Turtle Boat Strike: Hate and Hope

This 300-lb adult female Green suffered two propeller strikes to her shell, tearing into her organs.  We document during the patient's intake with photos including close-ups of the wounds for the patient's medical record.  Seeing a viable female at this size in such poor condition is heartbreaking.
This 300-lb adult female Green suffered two propeller strikes to her shell, tearing into her organs. We documented during the patient’s intake with photos including close-ups of the wounds for the patient’s medical record. Seeing a viable female at this size in such poor condition is heartbreaking.

Early one evening, a 300-pound adult female Green arrives. She suffers dual prop wounds on the front left and right rear of her carapace and flippers. X-rays suggest she was hit by two different boats as one wound is noticeably older than the other.

It is difficult to have any hope initially, immediately taken over by a bout of overwhelming emotional and empathetic physical pain. But the lung is not breeched; we can taste the faint existence of Hope on our tongues.

But then the vet removes her finger from a deep gash, and it’s covered in a foul-smelling, yellow paste. The bowels are severed. Pockets of bacteria have already begun to form internally, untreatable with antibiotics as they have traveled outside of the bloodstream. Even if we surgically sewed shut the bowels, this sea turtle would die a gradual and uncomfortable death.

The decision to euthanize is never easy, made exceedingly more difficult when you’re staring into the eyes of one of the most ancient creatures on this planet, one whose ancestral generations filled the oceans in the era of the dinosaurs. And one whose entire population is in danger of extinction… because of you, your past and present generations.

You’re entitled to your emotions as this fecund female struggles against the needle. It is mating and nesting season for sea turtles. The statistics flash before your eyes—less than one percent makes it to adulthood, and here you stand, a witness to the dwindling numbers. It’s not my fault, you think, or is it?

She breathes her last breath, the mix of bystander raw emotions palpable. We are all scientists of varying education and experience, but we’re humans first and foremost. The air around each of us rises up with feelings of disgust, despair, anger and, worst of all, hate. Hate toward humanity. Hate that our creations, our existence, seem bent on destruction.

These feelings surge until slowly, weakly, She resurfaces, swimming through our hearts and minds—Hope. She leaves us with a firmer commitment to our cause, our purpose, our passion on this earth.

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