Endangered turtle blown by hurricane onto Galway coast to be flown back to Gran Canaria

Endangered turtle blown by hurricane onto Galway coast to be flown back to Gran Canaria
(left to right) Maria Foley of Dingle Oceanworld and Marine biologist Louise Overy, also from Dingle Oceanworld, give Mara the loggerhead turtle a medical check up before her flight. Pic: Dominick Walsh.

An endangered turtle swept over to the Galway coast by ferocious Atlantic storms is jetting back home to the Canaries tomorrow on board a Ryanair flight.

The loggerhead turtle named Mara was barely breathing when she was found suffering from severe hypothermia on Dolan's beach, Roundstone, Galway, by local woman Linda Hederman on September 13.

She was brought to Western Veterinary in Clifden where her body temperature was slowly brought up overnight before being delivered to Dingle Oceanworld where she has spent the last seven weeks recuperating from her ordeal.

Mara, who is thought to be five or six years old, will be placed on a passenger seat on a Ryanair flight tomorrow in Cork Airport for her journey to Gran Canaria where she will be delivered straight to the island’s turtle hospital.

Before boarding the young turtle will be covered in Vaseline to keep her hydrated and placed in an aerated box with foam lining.

The director of Dingle Oceanworld Kevin Flannery, said she has been nursed back to full health over the past seven weeks.

“She is doing great, she’s put on about a kilo. We have had her in her special tropical tank and fed her squid mainly over the past seven weeks.

“Once she started moving very fast and chasing her food we were very happy. So she’s fully ready to back to the turtle hospital in Gran Canaria.

“We’re delighted she survived and very grateful to the people who helped her in Clifden in Galway before she came down here.

“We checked her out to make sure she didn’t have any ailments like pneumonia and then we gradually heated the water in her tank until it got to about 23 degrees. Then we began to see movement.

“She was also dehydrated which is hard to believe coming out of the ocean but they are not able to eat at all in these storms. We had to get fluids into her."

“She is so young and so strong and hopefully she will spend her teenage years in the Canaries like many young people would like too.”

The turtle named Mara has her own passport and will get special security clearance at Cork Airport tomorrow morning when she boards the flight to Gran Canaria.

“She is being accompanied by two staff and the vet who has taken care of her is also on the flight.

"She will be in an ordinary passenger seat in a box like everyone else."

“It would have been too cold in the hold for her. She will have a veterinary inspection before she goes to the airport.

“Kathleen Walsh in Cork Airport was great in helping us to make the arrangements and to ensure she had security clearance so there wouldn’t be any delays to the flight.

“She’ll be in a special aerated box and we’ll keep her moist and cover her shell in Vaseline."

The exhausted young reptile is thought to have been caught up in ferocious Atlantic storms, including Hurricane Dorian which destroyed the Bahamas.

It is thought the tiny one foot creature was thrown off course while crossing from the Saragossa Sea to the Canaries during peak hurricane season.

Mr Flannery said Mara is the youngest stranded turtle they have ever cared for down in the Dingle Oceanworld.

“At this stage, the number of stranded turtles sent back is in the high 30s.

“Before I had an aquarium I kept them I the bath here at home”, said the marine biologist.

“Nobody had a bath for a week! We shipped them back with the RAF and in one incidence a turtle went back with the Air Corps.

“Mara is the youngest to them all. Hopefully she’ll be released into the waters in Gran Canaria in a day or two.”

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