Clover was a straggler, a hatchling that can’t make it out of the nest. She was among 13 such left-behind baby turtles found by Tybee Island Sea Turtle Project volunteer Amy Capello found when she dug out the nest on Aug. 13, 2008.
“It didn’t seem appropriate to name her Lucky, so she became Clover,” Capello said.
The Savannah Morning news reports Clover spent her first three years at a 4-H center and grew to 25 pounds.
Most of the stragglers are sent on their way to the ocean immediately, but a few are raised in captivity. They serve as ambassadors for their species, said Mark Dodd, Georgia Sea Turtle Coordinator and wildlife biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. He said that years after their release, people remember the turtles by name.
In May, keepers began feeding Clover an exclusively live food diet, including crabs and jellyfish, to make sure she could fend for herself. A stone crab nicked her jaw and made her a little more timid temporarily, but otherwise she did fine.
“We call her Princess Clover,” said Capello, who teaches biology at Johnson High School. “She has that air about her.” It’s not certain the turtle is female, though — its gender can’t be determined without invasive tests.
On Thursday, hundreds of supporters cheered as Clover was carried out to the water near the Tybee pier.
The turtle was outfitted with a satellite transmitter that could track her for more than a year before it falls off. Fans can follow her journey at www.seaturtle.org
/tracking by clicking on “Georgia Sea Turtle Center” and looking for Clover.