Loggerhead turtle washes up on beach in Cornwall - 4,000 miles from home

The turtle was found by local couple Jude & Mike Pearson. Credit: Jude Pearson
The turtle was found by local couple Jude & Mike Pearson. Credit: Jude Pearson

A live baby loggerhead turtle has washed up on a beach in Cornwall - and been rescued by a litter-picker.

Jude Pearson found the turtle while picking up litter while on a dog walk.

At first, she thought it was dead but when her husband Mike picked it up it moved its flipper and head.

They wanted to phone for help but had no signal so drove the turtle to the Cornish Seal Sanctuary at Gweek. Staff then realised the sea creature needed urgent care so contacted the Blue Reef Aquarium which took on the turtle for ongoing medical care.

It is now being rehabilitated at the aquarium in Newquay and is in a critical stage of its recovery.

Beachgoers are now being urged to be on the lookout for turtles that may have been swept off course by storms on the east coast of America.

Loggerheads are an endangered species and only occasional visitors to UK waters.

Dan Jarvis from British Divers Marine Life Rescue said this is a rare event and was lucky the turtle was found as it’s so small.

He said it's vital for help to be sought quickly for turtles like this one.

“It really is a matter of life or death for these turtles," he said.

"It is too cold for them, they are not meant to be here at all and in our cold waters their body will start to shut down - that’ll lead to them not feeding, becoming malnourished and dehydrated, leading to infection and so on, so a lot of them we see are in a very bad condition.

"This is why it is so important that any that are found alive are treated as soon as possible.”

Dan explains what to do if you come across a washed-up turtle.

“If it’s alive, or you think it’s alive call BDMLR on 01825 765546 and we’ll get medics there as soon as possible," he said.

"If it’s dead then contact the Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s Marine Strandings Network on 0345 201 2626 and they have volunteers who can go out photograph it measure it, then retrieve it for a post-mortem examination.”

Dan says its vital help is sought quickly for turtles like this one.

Rod Penrose is the turtle database manager for the Marine Environmental Monitoring group.

He says putting a turtle back into the sea is the worst thing you can do and he recommends following the Turtle Code.

The Turtle Code explains who to contact if you come across a washed-up turtle. Credit: Marine Environmental Monitoring

He added: “If you’re lucky enough to find a turtle on UK beaches it may appear to be dead. There is a very good chance it is just cold-stunned.

"The worst thing you can do is put it back into the sea, so don’t do that. Get in touch with your nearest aquarium or BDMLR, they will slowly warm it up and bring it back to life.”

This turtle was found over 4,000 miles from its usual habitat, Dan Jarvis said the Blue Reef Aquarium team will do their best to rehabilitate the turtle but that it is in a critical stage of recovery.