Ila's Turtles

Black FlourishQuote by Ila Loetscher about her sea turtles being like children to herBlack Fluorish
Over the years, as Ila became foster mother to more and more sea turtles, several of them became very special to her and, as such, they deserve to be mentioned here.
Click on each picture to view a larger image of it
In 1966, Ila Loetscher and Dearl Adams began efforts to establish a rookery in Texas. Transporting eggs from Rancho Nuevo in Mexico to South Padre Island, they buried them in the sand for the incubation period. None hatched that year so they repeated the process in the subsequent year and were rewarded with a batch of hatchlings who headed out to sea. In 1974, a female turtle returned to South Padre Island marking a milestone in sea turtle history in the region as the first Kemp's ridley sea turtle to return to her birthplace in South Padre Island in more than 20 years. She was named Alpha.
Alpha the sea turtle on the beach at South Padre Island

Yankee Doodle Dandy was a most patriotic sea turtle, sharing a birthday with Uncle Sam on the fourth of July. Born in 1974, he lived for many years with Ila who would often bring him as a special guest of honor at holiday parades. Yankee Doodle Dandy is the only of Ila's many turtle children to be memorialized in the Turtle Lady's house with a large mural.
Ila with Yankee Doodle

Little Fox was brought from Mexico as a hatchling in 1971 and 9 years later, in 1980, helped to make history in sea turtle studies as the first Kemp's ridley female sea turtle to participate in a captive breeding program. Little Fox was sent to the Seaquarium 4 years later on Lost Island in Florida on Valentine's Day in 1984 to mate with one of the male turtles there.
Little Fox

Spunky was not only one of Ila's favorite sea turtles but a favorite of her family's as well.
Spunky the turtle in costume

Merry Christmas is an inquisitive turtle with a gentle nature who Ila found stranded on Christmas Eve in the mid-1980s on the Laguna Madre shore when a cold snap hit South Padre Island, stunning her into a dangerous condition. When the water suddenly turns colder than normal, a sea turtle's body temperature drops rapidly and unless rescued quickly, metabolic functions slow down, leading to a coma.
Merry Christmas the sea turtle

Tarball was an exceptionally distressed sea turtle when he was fortunate enough to come under Ila's care in 1979. Having swum through an oil spill, the poor creature looked like a big ball of tar; hence, his name. Two boys had brought him to Ila and it took six hours to clean the tar off of him. His eyes were burned and he had swallowed tar but Ila knew what to do. Feeding him a diet of lettuce to flush his system clean, she brought him back to health. As Ila remarked afterward, "He recovered but he just won't eat lettuce anymore."
Ila Loetscher with Tarball

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod were truly Ila's first flippered children, their names inspired by a favorite poem of hers by Eugene Field. In 1966, Ila and Dearl Adams found the three hatchlings who were weak and unable to make it to sea. Ila knew that they would not survive without help so she brought them home with her where she cared for them until they gained strength. According to Ila, they "were very quick to return my affection."
Wynken Blynken and Nod
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