Lucky Eddie has two seats on a Southwest Airlines flight Tuesday. One of them is a window seat. The only real issue he faces is the security baggage check: When the agents open his crate, the green sea turtle will be in it.
The flight will be the best ride the turtle has had in a while. It was pulled from the water debilitated in August 2012 near Edisto Island. When it arrived at the South Carolina Aquarium's turtle hospital, it was a "floater," unwilling or unable to dive underwater to hunt.
Treatment after treatment failed. Staff rigged weight belts, weight vests, even thin weight plates to encourage the turtle underwater. Finally, a CT scan showed the build-up of scar tissue or another tissue along an old boat propeller wound. The tissue evidently pressed too tightly against a nerve needed to dive. Eddie was declared unreleasable. He wasn't going back to sea.
But Sea Life in Grapevine, Texas wanted him; he will be displayed in a shallow water tank with other marine life. Aquarium staff approached Southwest Airlines for transport. The airline donated seats for the turtle crate - too big for a single seat - and three staffers. Special belting will hold Eddie tight for the flight. The turtle will be the first South Carolina Aquarium sea turtle rescue program client to fly commercial.
"We love opportunities like this," said Michelle Agnew, Southwest spokeswoman.
Reach Bo Petersen at 937-5744, @bopete on twitter or Bo Petersen Reporting on Facebook.