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Turtle stories

Juvenile Kemp’s ridley turtle (Lepidochelys kempii) stranded at Broad Haven, Pembrokeshire, - Rod Penrose, MEM (Marine Environment Monitoring)

November 1999


Stranding
: During severe weather on the 30th November 1999 at Broad Haven, Pembrokeshire, West Wales, a live stranded Kemp’s ridley was found upside down amongst seaweed on the strandline and was taken to the Oceanarium at St. David’s. The animal was positively identified as a juvenile Kemp’s ridley and weighed 12 kg with an overall body length measured at 40cm.

Rehabilitation: Following advice from Sea World in Orlando, Florida for this particular species, the Oceanarium treated the animal as follows:

Kemp’s ridley turtles inhabit the Gulf of Mexico in sea temperatures of 23°C, whereas this animal was found in sea temperatures of 12.5C. To avoid potentially fatal thermal shock, the turtle was placed in a 100-gallon tank in a heated room where the temperature was allowed to rise slowly, at the recommended temperature increase of 1.5 - 2°C/ day. This worked extremely well and enabled the tank to rise at a slow and consistent rate to 23°C.

On advice from Sea World, no attempts were made to feed the turtle until the tank water reached 23°C.

Repatriation:
The turtle was flown to Orlando, Florida and then transported from the airport to the Sea World at Orlando where it arrived on the 13th December 1999. The turtle was successfully released on the 12th April 2000 into the wild at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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Marine Conservation SocietyThe Herpetological Conservation TrustSocttish Natural HeritageEnglish NatureEnvironment and Heritage ServiceCountryside Council for WalesMarine Turtle Research GroupMarine Environment MonitoringMEDASSET / EuroTurtle.orgThe Wildlife TrustsUniversity of Cork