3-legged sea turtle thrives despite amputated flipper

This massive Green Sea Turtle lives in the waters surrounding Akumal, Mexico. Translated from Mayan, Akumal literally means 'Place of the Turtles'. It is here that an unusually large number of sea turtles come to feed, mate and nest. Despite the haven that Akumal provides, sea turtle populations worldwide are declining at a staggering rate.<br><br>This turtle was found lying on the coral reef in 50 feet of water right out in front of one of the region's largest sea grass beds. The turtles feast on the vegetation and then swim out to deeper waters to rest on the bottom for as long as 30 minutes at a time. They will then surface for a few breaths of air before before returning to find a crevice on the ocean floor to rest some more.<br><br>This sea turtle is missing most of her front, left flipper, an injury that will greatly affect her ability to swim and possibly her ability to crawl up on the beach during nesting season. There are many possible reasons that the turtle is missing a limb. They are often injured when struck by boat propellers. They are also commonly preyed upon by Caribbean Reef Sharks and Hammerhead Sharks. One might expect that such an injury would be fatal to the turtle, but it appears to have healed well and the turtle still appears to be thriving in spite of it.<br><br>Mexico is one of many places that have started implementing crucial conservation measures to limit habitat destruction and lessen the impact of humans on their wildlife. Nesting areas are being protected and the importance of their survival is being more widely recognized. If we don't protect our reefs and the creatures that depend on them, the health of our oceans and our entire planet will suffer.

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