Earlier this morning one of the original 11 Galapagos turtles that escaped an Ecuadorian nature preserve in 2020 was identified traveling eastward in the southern United States. Geoforce, an asset tracking company, had humanely affixed a GT1 Global Asset Tracker to the shell of each animal, and one (#8, “Phyllis”) appeared in their Track and Trace application, complete with GPS location. This is the second in a series of breaking reports to keep readers informed on what Geoforce and local media can determine.
Wilmington, NC Fish and Game officers admit they arrived too late to apprehend turtle #8, “Phyllis,” after she toured North Carolina’s “Hollywood of the East” and later jump-started the Sea Turtle egg-laying season into its biggest bumper crop of new turtles in years.
“Phyllis? Oh, yeah. Totally here. In the moment for sure,” said Tolerud Gordon, a tour guide for EUE/Screen Gems. “She started off slow. Took a while for her to come out of her… well, I mean, she really enjoyed seeing where “One Tree Hill” was filmed.”
“But she geeked out on a whole other level when we got to the 1990 TMNT film sets. She must’ve taken at least 200 hundred selfies and acted out several scenes, involving complete strangers if needed. Some had never seen the movies. A few didn’t even speak English. Set the tour back 45 minutes, but honestly, nobody cared. We were just happy for her. It’s obvious this was her jam and she’d been wanting to come here for a long time.”
After trading emails with other tour-goers, Phyllis left alone bearing east. Just ahead of Fish and Game field sergeant, Dave Mackie, who arrived 50 minutes later. With no other leads, Officer Mackie then demanded to make a public appeal for Phyllis’s whereabouts over Wilmington’s Big Talker 106.7 FM. Owner/host Chad Adams relented, but only after giving a tight five on how Phyllis did nothing but contribute to the local economy.
Law enforcement finally hit pay dirt around 4PM, when the station was contacted by Bald Head Island Conservancy, which reported something “Fish and Game has to see.” Not knowing what to expect, Officer Mackie and three field agents rushed to the scene only to find hundreds of bird carcasses littering South Beach. The sand was also covered with thousands of tiny flipper prints heading into the ocean.
Wrapped in a trauma blanket and still shivering, Forest Preserve Ranger Bob Wills whispered, “It came out of Cape Fear. Green. Fast. Seagulls, terns, albatrosses, pelicans, even. They had the numbers, sure, but they were… intimidated. They just watched as 100% of the baby sea turtle population made it to the open ocean safely. The tourists are gonna be furious. The migration wasn’t supposed to happen for another 4 weeks.”
It took some strong coffee and another ping from Geoforce Track and Trace for Officer Mackie and team to score another lead. But by then, the location was in the open ocean, well into international waters, and far beyond their jurisdiction, and belief.