If you haven’t yet had the pleasure, let me introduce you to Bubble Butt!
The first and longest permanent resident of The Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys recently celebrated his 33rd anniversary with the facility.
The Green sea turtle was rescued on March 25, 1989 after being struck by a boat in the Gulf of Mexico near Southwest Florida. His shell was deformed by the strike leaving a large “bubble” on his “butt,” hence the origin of his name.
His traumatic encounter with the boat also left him floating permanently. At the time, experts could not explain why he was unable to dive; he became the first documented case of a turtle suffering from Positive Buoyancy Syndrome, or “Bubble Butt Syndrome.”
After being transported to the facility, a complete physical was done to evaluate his overall condition. Sadly, his rear flippers were also paralyzed due to spinal damage from the impact. As there is no treatment for this condition, Bubble Butt was declared non-releasable and became The Turtle Hospital’s first permanent resident and ambassador!
To make Bubble Butt’s stay at the hospital comfortable, staff has fitted him with a weight on the rear end of his shell to counteract his buoyancy. With this weight he can dive to the bottom of his 100,000 gallon saltwater swimming pool and sleep under rocky ledges, letting him live a comfortable life.
Over time, Bubble Butt has gained a lot of healthy weight (his intake weight was 11 pounds and he has grown to 120 pounds by his last physical in late 2021.) He’s also developed quite the personality. Because of his disposition, educational staff members have been able to show him off to guests while teaching them about the importance of safe boating.
Bubble Butt’s job is being a great ambassador for his species, greeting visitors at the Turtle Hospital each day and continuing to enjoy one-on-one attention from rehabbers. We’re told that sometimes he tends to sleep in and skip parts of his shift. It must be tough being the most famous sea turtle in the entire Florida Keys!
The Turtle Hospital is located at Mile Marker 48.5 in Marathon. Regrettably, The Turtle Hospital typically admits several new sea turtles afflicted with Bubble Butt Syndrome each year, so please read more about what you can do to help protect them at turtlehospital.org.