Second turtle swept off course dies in Ireland

A second species of turtle, this time a young loggerhead, washed up on the north-west coast of Ireland in the past week. Previously, one of the rarest and most endangered species of turtle – Kemp’s Ridley – washed up in the same area and was found dead by a coast-watch volunteer.

A loggerhead turtle

A loggerhead turtle Image by Nataša Stuper / CC BY 2.0

In the latest incident, the loggerhead has sadly died at Exploris Aquarium, Co Down after being swept hundreds of miles off course and washing up on the Donegal coast. Staff at the Co Down aquarium had undertaken 24-hour care in the turtle's tank. The Belfast Telegraph reports that part of their duties included holding the loggerhead’s weakened head out of the water in case it drowned.

The stranded turtle - aged 12, and therefore too young to have its sex determined - was found at Glencolmcille beach by Grainne Rua as she walked her dog. She alerted the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, which rescued the young reptile and brought it to Exploris last weekend. Loggerhead turtles can't survive winter sea temperatures around Ireland as they are usually found in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans and the Mediterranean Sea. Tania Singleton at Exploris believes the turtle may have been travelling along the Gulf Stream from the Caribbean when it was swept off course and into waters that are far too cold for survival.

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