British Divers Marine Life Rescue
British Divers Marine Life Rescue (photo: Steve Marsh)
British Divers Marine Rescue


2007-01-08 12:19:14

Turtle at Woolacombe, Devon

Saturday morning (6th January 2007, 10.30 am) Steve Hunt and myself (Sarah Gardiner) were surfing at Woolacombe beach, North Devon. We were alerted by two members of the public who had found a turtle on the beach around the high tide mark (spring high tide that morning had been around 8 ish) they requested that we take it out to deeper water as they thought it had stranded. However, we informed them that the water temperature was much too low and this wasn’t a native species and likely to be ill and weak so it would be best to get it some help and reassured them that we knew who to contact.

The turtle had some damage to the carapace, was very small (carapace 30-35 cm in length) and extremely cold but showed signs of life. Whilst Steve ran back to the van for his phone, I placed the turtle on my lap to try and warm it a little, after which it became more lively. We contacted Tony Woodley who gave us instructions on how to administer basic first aid. Identification proved difficult, at first we thought it may be a Kemps Ridley. We were then informed by Tony that the best place to take the turtle would be West Hatch RSPCA wildlife hospital near Taunton and that Shawn, a supervisor there would meet us halfway along the A361 so we could hand the turtle over to them. We proceeded back to our van and wrapped the turtle in damp towels and during the journey tried to keep it at a 30 degree angle, tail end up, so that any fluids in its lungs would drain, a small amount of fluid did appear to come out of its nose and mouth. We managed to meet up with Shawn near Tiverton and handed the turtle to him and he proceeded to cover it in lubricant to keep it moist on its journey back to the wildlife hospital.

On Sunday we were passing the wildlife hospital again and dropped in to see how things were going, they informed us that the turtle was quite malnourished and that it would take a few days to get its body temperature up to 20 C after which it could start to be fed, it also had damage to its carapace which had become infected in areas. On Monday it will be taken to Weymouth sea life centre where they have more experience with turtles and have the facilities to deal with it.

As for now we are keeping our fingers crossed that he/she will survive and hopefully be released into the sea again.

Sarah Gardiner and Stephen Hunt
BDMLR Medics

UPDATE: The latest species identification is that it is actually a Kemprs Ridley turtle. They believe the turtle is approximately 1 year old and the good news is, is that it is doing really well. They hope to get the turtle's temperature up in the next week to 10 days before they will begin trying to get the weight up. They don't anticipate that the turtle will be with them very long before it is taken back to the Gulf of Mexico for release.

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