A critically ill, rare turtle has been found off the coast of Co Donegal and is now being cared for by a sea-life sanctuary in Northern Ireland.

rare turtle
Image: Exploris Aquarium

The juvenile loggerhead turtle was found by a father and daughter on Sunday. Experts believe that the turtle got lost after being carried by the Gulf Stream hundreds of miles away from its native warm waters near the west coast of Ireland.

According to a spokeswoman for Exploris Aquarium in Portaferry, the aquarium’s seal team made the five-hour trek up to Donegal on Monday after receiving the rare reports regarding a stranded turtle.

The turtle’s condition is being described as “critical,” and it is receiving intensive care at the sanctuary.

“Juvenile loggerhead turtles should be in the middle of the Atlantic in warm waters where there is plenty of food, not returning to shores until they are approximately seven to 12 years old,” the spokeswoman said in a statement. “The individual currently at Portaferry is likely to have been caught in the Gulf Stream, travelling several hundred miles away from its home.”

The turtle was found by Daniel Johnstone and his daughter, who named the turtle “Julius Caesar.”

When the team first found the turtle, it’s body temperature was at an extremely low 11°C. But, staff have managed to raise its temperature to 17°C. Loggerhead turtles can live to be 50 years of age, but this turtle is believed to be only a year and a half old.

Peter Williams, the aquarium curator, has issued an appeal to the public to keep an eye out for any other loggerhead turtles on the coasts of Ireland. He asks for anyone with information on the matter to contact the Exploris Aquarium at (028 4272 8062).


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By Heather Snelgar

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