It was Steve Booker’s dream to see a real sea turtle at close quarters. So when he found a seemingly lifeless example of the species on a beach in Mexico, one can only imagine that he was devastated. But rather than give up on the creature, Booker leapt into action.
Booker hails from the town of Cyril in Oklahoma. He lives there with his wife Shelli and his family. And when he’s not spending time with his loved ones, he works as a technician at DIRECTV.
In his spare time, Booker is an enthusiastic photographer. Indeed, his Facebook page is awash with impressive snaps of some of the United States’ most iconic animals. However, it was a wildlife video from further afield that would bring Booker viral fame.
In summer 2017 Booker was on vacation on the island of Cozumel in Mexico. The Caribbean idyll is surrounded by clear blue waters rich with sea life, making it a paradise for divers and snorkelers alike.
Indeed, the lively reefs surrounding Cozumel practically teem with life. They boast an impressive 500 species of fish and 26 different types of coral. As a result, it’s not hard to see why the island appealed to a nature lover like Booker.
In fact, Booker loved the Mexican island so much that he’d already visited Cozumel on two previous occasions. However, this time around he had one major ambition – to see a sea turtle at close range.
During his vacation, Booker was also eager to capture some images of the landscape. So one morning, he got up early to record a time-lapse video of the sunrise. And much to his surprise, that’s when he stumbled upon a sea turtle. However, the animal didn’t look to be in a good way.
During an interview with KNIN-FM in 2017, Booker explained, “When I saw the sea turtle at first, I thought it was dead. It wasn’t moving, its neck was all stretched out, it was just totally motionless.”
Booker decided to take a few pictures of the sad sight. But as he snapped away with his camera, he noticed the animal blink. It turned out that the creature wasn’t dead at all. However, she was injured and in a bad state.
Explaining how he felt after realizing that the turtle was alive, Booker said, “I knew immediately I had to jump in and help.” So that’s exactly what the amateur photographer did. And what’s more, he decided to film his rescue efforts.
Cozumel is home to two different types of sea turtles, the loggerhead and the hawksbill. Judging by the size of the creature that Booker found, it seems like it was an example of the former. Loggerheads are the largest species of hard-shelled turtle and can grow up to 3.5 feet long.
Booker found the turtle beside the bank of a road. As a result, he believed that the animal had suffered a fall. “She must have crossed the road and fell off from above,” Booker wrote on YouTube in 2017. “She was bleeding from her nose a little and her shell was cracked.”
In the footage, he adds, “OK folks, I found this stranded turtle out her in Cozumel. [She’s] bleeding. I am going to flip this little baby over. I am going to do my best anyway.” And with that, he puts his camera down to go and help the sea creature.
Booker calmly approaches the turtle. By this point, though, the animal is starting to flail her feet around in what looks like panic. So, with no time to lose, Booker starts pushing the turtle on the side of her shell in order to flip her over.
Booker then turns his camera to capture the turtle as she makes her way back towards the sea. As the animal wades through the sand, her savior says, “She came up here to lay her eggs and got stuck. Poor thing.”
Booker promises to follow the sea turtle’s journey all the way back to the ocean. As he does so, he quietly encourages the animal along, breaking only to admire the beautiful sunrise in the distance.
After several minutes, the sea turtle finally reaches the lapping waves. Booker takes a second to reflect on the amazing scene unfolding in front of his eyes. “Man, that’s gotta be hard,” he says, watching the animal drag herself along the sand. “She is heavy.”
A few moments later, the sea turtle submerges herself in the waves and begins to float away into the water. As she does so, Booker remarks, “This is what I call a perfect sunrise right here, folks. A perfect sunrise!”
Since Booker first posted his footage on YouTube in 2017, it has had over 620,000 views. What’s more, it has attracted dozens of congratulatory comments for the sea turtle’s hero, Booker. “Great job, man,” read one. “Right place at the right time with the right man.”
According to Booker, though, he was just doing his duty by helping wildlife. He was confident that the sea turtle would recover from her ordeal and decided to nickname her “Lucky.” Talking about the rescue, he said that he hoped to return to Cozumel. Indeed, if he did, he might perhaps someday reunite with Lucky the loggerhead.