Associated Press

A sea turtle at the Mississippi Aquarium has inspired a musical.

The green sea turtle Banner was the inspiration behind, “Banner: A Sea Turtle Saga,” an original children’s musical put on by theater students from Mississippi State University.

It debuted at Mississippi State earlier this month and was performed on Monday at the Mississippi Aquarium in Gulfport.

The show, written by Mississippi State Associate Professor of Communications Tonya Hays and marine scientist and Northern Gulf Institute Education and Outreach Director Jonathan Harris, tells the story of Banner and his sea-creature friends who go on an underwater adventure. The story teaches about the dangers marine animals face due to plastic pollution, oil spills and climate change.

Banner was rescued in Florida after being severely injured by a boat propeller. The green sea turtle is the world’s largest species of hard-shelled turtle. It is a threatened species in U.S. Atlantic waters, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The show featured student performers wearing puppets of various marine life designed by Mississippi coast theater veteran Tim Baker, of Gulfport. Baker, a professional sculptor, prop-maker and special effects artist, has worked with Marvel Studios and Universal Orlando on multiple film projects.

The same turtle that the musical is named for; Banner,is getting medicine to reduce intestinal gas because a buildup was keeping her from diving.

Banner the green sea turtle was rescued in Florida after being severely injured by a boat propeller. After four years of rehabilitation, staffers at the Florida Aquarium decided the turtle could never be safely released, and she was sent last summer to Mississippi.

Green sea turtles’ vegetarian diet makes them unique and also tints their fat. They were named “green” because of the color of their fat, not their shells, which can be dark brown, grey, or olive.

Banner’s big problem was that her hind end was buoyant, making it harder to dive, Dr. Alexa Delaune, the Mississippi Aquarium’s vice president of veterinary services, said in a news release about how the aquarium is working to conserve endangered sea turtles.

That problem recently became more severe, so Banner had a CT scan at Singing River Hospital in Gulfport.

“We were able to see that there was a lot of gas built up in Banner’s intestines so we put her on a medication to reduce the gas in the intestines,” Delaune wrote. She said in an email that Banner was put on the anti-gas medication about two weeks ago.

“It seems to be helping because she’s spending more time diving and resting on the bottom” of the 30-foot- (nine-meter-) deep tank where she lives, Delaune wrote. Sharks, stingrays and a variety of fish share the 400,000-gallon (1.5 million- liter) habitat called Aquatic Wonders.

Veterinarians think that the propeller may have damaged nerves going to Banner’s intestinal tract, Delaune said in an email.

“We won’t be able to cure the problem but we can manage it to make sure it doesn’t get worse,” she wrote in the news release.

The Florida Aquarium had believed Banner was male, but her short tail and lack of front claws made Mississippi staffers think otherwise. An endoscopy confirmed her sex.

All sea turtles found in U.S. waters are endangered or threatened.

As part of its conservation work, the aquarium tried last month to save a threatened loggerhead sea turtle hooked by an angler in Alabama. A post-mortem exam found three places where fishing hooks had cut open its small intestine and that fishing line had bunched up its intestines.

“While we could not save this sea turtle, we will use her case to teach people about the dangers of boat injuries and fishing gear ingestion to sea turtles,” Delaune wrote.

The aquarium is currently caring for two Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, the smallest and most endangered sea turtle species. One has a shoulder infection that restricts movement and the other has a severe lung infection.

The New England Aquarium in Massachusetts asked the Mississippi Aquarium to take them, making room for turtles likely to strand this winter, Delaune wrote.

“Both turtles are on medications and doing very well at this time. When they have completed their medical treatment we will release them here in the Gulf of Mexico,” she wrote.

(Photo Courtesy Celeste Forcier/Mississippi Aquarium via AP)