Stranded Seafield turtle could spends months recovering

Stranded Seafield turtle could spends months recovering

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The IWDG's Simon Berrow pictured with the loggerhead turtle
The IWDG’s Simon Berrow pictured with the loggerhead turtle. Image John Flynn, IWDG

Efforts are continuing to rehydrate and save a loggerhead turtle that washed up on a Co Clare beach this week.

Tuesday’s discovery is just the third recording of the species on Irish shores in the IWDG’s database. The previous recordings were in 2008 in Wexford and Mayo.

The medium sized turtle, usually found at this time of year around the Cape Verde Islands of the coast of Africa, was found stranded at Seafield near Quilty on Tuesday night.

The turtle which was named “Leon” after the famous shipwreck off Quilty, was transported to Galway Atlantiquarium yesterday (Thursday), where attempts are being made to rehabilitate it.

The alarm was raised by local woman Lorna King who found the turtle and quickly reported it to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) and the Shannon Dolphin and Wildlife Foundation.

Group members Dr Simon Berrow and John Flynn visited the beach and recovered the live loggerhead which has a curved carapace length of measuring 60cm.

Dr Berrow, IWDG project manager  said: “You might see a loggerhead turtle wash up every two or three years but not very often at all. This is a medium sized turtle and was in a bad way when found.”

Dr Berrow, a marine biology lecturer at Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT), initially took the turtle home to care for it but on Wednesday night it had been feared the reptile had died.

However, yesterday morning, it started moving again in the van on the way to Galway where it’s now been looked after in a local aquarium.

“We’ve taken the turtle to the aquarium in Galway where a vet has carried out an examination but at the moment, the turtle is very dehydrated and it will be a slow process to rehabilitate him,” Dr Berrow added.

“We will have to raise the turtle’s temperature slowly like if you were treating hypothermia. Feeding isn’t an issue at all, it’s the dehydration,” he said.

Dr Berrow has confirmed that it could take several months for the rehabilitation process before thoughts of returning the turtle to the sea are even considered.

“It’s hard to know what will happen then. Larger turtles can usually find their way back to warmer waters but the smaller ones are not strong enough,” Dr Berrow added.

The IWDG and SDWF have expressed gratitude to Ms King for alerting them.

The loggerhead sea turtle is found in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans, as well as the Mediterranean Sea.

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