Three stranded juvenile loggerhead sea turtles are receiving rehabilitation treatment at Newquay’s Blue Reef Aquarium.
The first turtle was found on Friday the 13 January on Perranporth beach, Cornwall, and is now feeding itself and swimming after receiving specialised care from the aquarium team.
Two more juvenile loggerheads were brought to the aquarium by volunteers from British Divers Marine Life Rescue on the evening of 3 February, one being found at Widemouth Bay, Bude and the other found at Perranporth Beach again.
Blue Reef Aquarium’s General Manager Steve Matchett said: “These turtles are washed up in an extremely weakened state called cold stunned and are very often dehydrated. They are from warm waters and get taken off course by storms when following warm Atlantic currents. When they are brought to us we follow an established procedure to try and return them to full health and get them ready for release back into warmer waters, usually near the Canary Isles.”
The Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay has rehabilitated and released several sea turtles over many years, but is keen to note that most turtles don’t survive due to being too cold for too long a period of time before being washed up in the UK.
Lara Heaney the aquarium’s Assistant Curator explained “Over a period of weeks we very gradually raise the temperature of the water and when the turtles become more active we can then start them feeding and swimming. To start with we re-hydrate them by tubing or syringing fluids into their mouths several times a day. Then progress onto a liquidised fish diet.”
“This can be a long process to recovery and we always have to be mindful of hidden internal injuries before we can be confident any are on the way to a full recovery,” she added.
It is very important that any turtles washed up are not put back into the sea, as they will die as UK waters are too cold.
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 the British Divers Marine Life Rescue 24hr hotline on 01825 765546
Photos: Lizzi Larbalestier and Michelle Robinson-Clement.