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McNubbins the sea turtle swimming

McNubbins in her foster home. Curtesy of Gumbo Limbo Nature Center

Over the last 10 years, our Sea Turtle Healing Center team has helped some very special sea turtle patients recover and return to their ocean habitats. However, one of our flippered friends has also left her mark on several fellow sea turtle patients and our staff: McNubbins. 

Green sea turtle McNubbins arrived as a patient at the Healing Center in October of 2021. With a missing left front flipper and a partially missing right front flipper, it’s likely that she survived an attack from a predator. After intensive care from our veterinary staff, McNubbins was able to heal, swim, eat and interact with enrichment well.  

Unfortunately, with such an extensive permanent injury, it was decided after multiple tests and discussions that she was a non-releasable turtle. While it is our ultimate goal to return healed turtles to their natural range, with only two fully functioning flippers it was unlikely she would be able to act upon her natural behaviors. Nesting, mating, diving from predators and dealing with the rough conditions that come with ocean living were all concerns.  

Once this decision was made for McNubbins’ overall wellbeing, our staff began working with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission under special arrangements to temporarily place McNubbins in another aquarium or zoo with a larger, more natural habitat than our recovery pools, so she could live her life safely and happily. We’re so grateful to have the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton, Florida, house her in their facility while our future Aquarium and Conservation Center is being fundraised for and constructed. When our second campus is up and running, McNubbins will return to us to become the Aquarium’s first official resident! 

Through her stay with us, McNubbins has donated blood to other patients to help them survive and thrive. She’s also had a more flippers-on role in helping other nervous sea turtle patients find their bearings under our care. From teaching other sea turtles what a tasty meal is at the Healing Center to how to enjoy their enrichment, McNubbins has been there for her fellow patients in many ways. Even our Healing Center staff feels the special, calming presence McNubbins has had over the years.  

Sea Turtle Healing Center Coordinator, Jess Patterson, said, “I am going to miss having the opportunity every morning to come and see her silly little face. She’s got such a great personality.”  

While we are sad to say a temporary goodbye to this turtle-y amazing patient, we can’t wait to see her thrive in a more appropriate facility while her future home is being built. If you’re interested in helping bring McNubbins home faster by funding our Aquarium and Conservation Center, you can find multiple ways to support us here.  

Have you found a sea turtle that needs help? Visit this page or call the Sea Turtle Preservation Society at 321-206-0646Want to help the Sea Turtle Healing Center? Support our Zoo, or view our Healing Center’s wishlist.