January 12, 2016
A young sea turtle has been rescued after stranding on a beach in Cornwall.
The 20cms-long juvenile was discovered on Gwithian Beach near Hayle yesterday (Wednesday) and taken to Newquay’s Blue Reef Aquarium.
The loggerhead turtle was found by David Fenwick stranded on the beach with a large number of goose barnacles attached to his shell.
He is now being given emergency treatment at the Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay in a special quarantine unit.
The aquarium has been involved in more than a dozen sea turtle rescues to date and were only too happy to try and help.
“Unfortunately this particular turtle is very poorly indeed and we are doing all we can, with the help of a vet who is an expert in marine turtles, to try and stabilize its condition,” said Blue Reef’s Steve Matchett.
“Turtles only strand in UK waters when there is something seriously wrong with them. They tend to fall victim to our chilly waters and gradually become more and more lethargic until they lapse into unconsciousness.
“The next few days are absolutely crucial but we have to face the fact that it has been through a lot and the fact it has stranded means it was no longer able to swim or fend for itself,” he added.
The sea turtle is not on display to the general public during this recovery period.
Loggerhead turtles are rare in UK waters but their numbers, along with other warm water species do seem to be on the rise.
If anyone does come across a stranded turtle the advice is not to try and put them back in the water but to contact an animal rescue organisation or Blue Reef Aquarium direct.
Most loggerheads are born along the coast of Mexico and Florida although there are separate populations in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
During their first three years of life many loggerheads migrate with the warmer waters of the Atlantic circulating in a current of water known as the North Atlantic Gyre which is rich in their favourite food including jellyfish and squid.
This particular turtle was probably born on a beach in the Caribbean or Mexico and somehow – possibly following a severe storm – ended up getting pushed out of the gyre and further and further north.
What to do if you find a stranded turtle*:
Do not attempt to put the turtle back into the sea
Wrap in a towel soaked in seawater, don’t cover nostrils
Place in a secure place on its belly and do not attempt to warm the animal up, keep it at the same temperature you found it
If inactive, raise the back end of the shell so the turtle is resting at approximately 30° to drain lungs
Contact Marine Environmental Monitoring on 01239 683033, the RSPCA on 0300 1234999 or British Divers Marine Life Rescue on 01825 765546
*These rules do not apply to leatherback turtles which can be carefully re-floated if uninjured. Please check with an expert first
Issued by Blue Reef Aquarium. For more information please contact Steve Matchett or Jade Horsley on 01637 878134.