Loggerhead turtles nursed back to health in Cornwall head for Canary Islands

The turtles will be returning to warmer waters.

Four turtles that were washed up onto beaches in Cornwall are being released back into the wild in the Canary Islands.

Staff at the Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay have been nursing them back to health.

They were sad to pack them off, but say they are delighted that they now have a new chance of thriving in warmer waters.

Three of the turtles have been at the aquarium for over a year.

For their big journey, they were coated in Vaseline to stop them dehydrating.

The turtles were well prepared for their big trip.

Assistant Curator at the aquarium, Lara Heaney, explained: "Once they're in their boxes each of their crates has got a foam bottom so it's nice and soft, they're nice and secure. It's quite dark in there which calms them down as well."

The largest is named Gordon, who was found fighting for his life. He had a crate made for him due to his size.

Abby Wheston, Senior Aquarist said: "Gordon is especially rewarding to see go back out. He came in at just over a kilo and now he's going out at eight kilos.

"It's even more rewarding as he had a stomach full of plastic that he passed on his own and then he got a full belly and he's definitely grown the biggest out of all of them who have come out."

It has taken months of paperwork and working with government departments to get the travel organised.

Gordon had his own crate made.

The group was transported with two other turtles from Anglesey via a specialist carrier.

Looking after the turtles that were washed up exhausted and confused thousands of miles from their native waters has been intense for the staff. At one point they had to syringe feed three of them every two hours.

What to do if you find a stranded turtle:

  • Do not attempt to put the turtle back into the sea

  • Wrap in a towel soaked in seawater, don’t cover nostrils

  • Place in a secure place on its belly and do not attempt to warm the animal up,keep it at the same temperature you found it

  • If inactive, raise the back end of the shell so the turtle is resting atapproximately 30° to drain the lungs

  • Contact the British Divers Marine Life Rescue 24hr hotline on 01825 765546

These rules do not apply to leatherback turtles which can be carefully re-floated if uninjured. Please check with an expert first.