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Turtle stories

Juvenile loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) stranded at Holywell Bay, Cornwall - Richard Smith, Blue Reef Aquarium

March 2001

A juvenile loggerhead turtle, of overall length approximately 25 cm (10”), was spotted by a member of the public washed up on the beach at Holywell Bay, Cornwall in March 2001. It was immediately taken to the Blue Reef Aquarium, Newquay.

The turtle was weak and suffering from extreme hypothermia when found. The turtle’s eyes were sunken and coated in sand, so on arrival at Blue Reef, were bathed to remove the sand before the turtle was placed in a quarantine tank.

The day after arrival the turtle, christened Holly, was inspected by a local vet and said to be in reasonable health.

After 12 days we tried feeding the turtle with pieces of fish and squid but it showed no interest. We decided to force-feed the turtle, which we did by prizing open the beak and inserting cockle flesh into the mouth (the turtle chewed the flesh and spat out the skin). We attempted hand-feeding strips of squid, which the turtle took readily. For approximately 10 days the turtle continued feeding on squid, but then lost interest and began feeding on white fish.

In preparation for repatriation of the turtle to the Atlantic Ocean around Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Holly was inspected by a local vet and given a certificate of good health on the 30.04.01. The turtle was tagged with a Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tag injected into the front flipper for future identification.

On arrival in Gran Canaria, the turtle was transported to the Rehabilitation Centre and placed into a tank 6m x 3m, where she exhibited no apparent ill effects from the trip. Holly was released the following day from a remote beach on the south east side of the island.



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