A RARE LOGGERHEAD turtle is currently in critical condition at an aquarium in Co, Down after it was discovered washed up on a beach in Co, Donegal.
In the early hours of Monday morning, Exploris Aquarium in Portaferry sent its rescue team to follow up on reports of a stranded turtle on a beach in Donegal.
The juvenile turtle – believed to be between one and two-years-old – was discovered by a father and daughter on Sunday afternoon and is currently being treated for cold-stunning.
Aquarium curator, Peter Williams told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that cold-stunning affects reptiles because they rely on their environment to keep their body temperature up.
“Sea turtles are found in most tropical waters. So, when their temperature drops below a critical point they sort of go into a frozen like state, and that for an extended period of time isn’t good for the animal.”
The team at Exploris Aquarium are currently working to raise the turtle’s core temperature, similar to how a person is treated for hypothermia.
“We’re slowly increasing the water temperature that it’s in at the moment and that brings up its body core temperature,” Williams said.
Around the clock care
There are a number of turtles spotted in Irish waters every year, with the leatherback turtles the most frequently found.
According to Williams, while there are also a handful of loggerhead sightings every year, as temperatures drop they should migrate back down to warmer waters.
Juvenile loggerhead turtles should be in the middle of the Atlantic in warm waters where there is plenty of food, not returning to shores until they are approximately 7 to 12-years-old. The individual currently at Portaferry is likely to have been caught in the gulf stream, travelling several hundred miles away from its home.
The loggerhead turtle is expected to receive around the clock care and remain in a critical condition for several weeks.
The team at Exploris Aquarium hope that they will be able to rehabilitate the reptile and then release it into warmer waters, possibly close to the Mediterranean.
“We would like to take this opportunity to tell the public to keep their eyes peeled for anymore loggerheads which may be in our seas. If you come across anything please get in touch with Exploris Aquarium immediately on 028 4272 8062,” Williams said.