Animal Spotlight - Wild West
Adding to the diversity of the “Keep” at Dolphin Quest Bermuda (DQB), Wild West is a special addition to the Dolphin Quest family. In 2006, Wild West, a hawksbill sea turtle, was found floating in Hamilton Harbour showing signs that he was unable to dive. His rescuer, Devon West, whom Wild West was later named after, brought him to the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo (BAMZ) where he was found to have a very serious trauma based injury including a curved spine, malformed “carapace” or shell and paralysis from his pelvic region to his rear flippers.
Turtles control their buoyancy in the water by holding or releasing air in their lungs. The cause of Wild West’s malformed carapace was displacement of his lung to the posterior region of his body. As a result, Wild West could not dive down to forage for the food he would need to survive and grow up to a full 100-150 pounds! BAMZ ingeniously attached a small weight pouch to the rear of Wild West’s carapace to aid in his ability to swim and even dive. After showing success in his swimming abilities and recovery, Wild West came to join Dolphin Quest in 2009 where he has grown from a young ten pound turtle to an 8-12 year old, twenty-five pound turtle! We routinely change his pouch adding more weight based on his own weight changes.
Hawksbill sea turtles are just one of five species of sea turtles found in the coastal waters of Bermuda and are in fact one of the rarest species of sea turtles, listed globally as a critically endangered species. They are often hunted for their beautiful shell which is marketed around the world as ‘tortoiseshell’ and they can easily become entangled in fishing nets or lines as they inhabit coral reefs and coastal regions. Hawksbill sea turtles are integral to the survival of coral reef systems by consuming sponges and maintaining sea sponge populations so they do not suffocate coral reefs. By ensuring the survival of turtles like Wild West we can work to sustain our world oceans.
Wild West has become a well-loved addition to our DQB family and our guests continue to be touched by his tale of survival.