2nd Loggerhead turtle washes up in West Cork..2nd UPDATE

12th Dec 2009 Report III, Lahinch 12/12/09.

Unfortuately the loggerhead turtle found stranded alive at Doonbeg, Co Clare has died. Burren Vet John Underhill examined the turtle at Lahinch Aquarium on 10 December and was concerned about its health, especially its dehydrated state. Plans were underway to rehydrate the turtle but they could not be put into plan.

The water temperature was up to 16 degrees in the quaranteen tank but the turtle never really perked up. Many thanks to Mark Quinn at Lahinch Aquarium for trying his best to rehabilitate the turtle. The body will be going to Tom Doyle at the Coastal and Marine Resources Centre, UCC for post-mortem examination.

Report II, Co. Cork 10/12/09.

Hot on the heels of yesterday's live loggerhead turtle stranding from Doonbeg Co. Clare, comes a 2nd stranding of the same species from Long Strand, Nr. Clonakilty, Co. Cork. Smaller than the Clare turtle with a carapace length of c30cm, this specimen is also thought to be a juvenile male. The fact that a small parasitic, pale coloured crab was found living under the reptiles carapace, combined with its good body condition suggest it had only recently expired.

The loggerhead was found dead by William Helps, local IWDG member, who has in the past also recorded the much larger Leatherback turtle which washed in at Mill Cove, near Rosscarbery a number of years ago. Turtle researcher, Dr Tom Doyle, UCC has been informed of this latest turtle stranding.

Report I, Co. Clare, 09/12/09.

An immature loggerhead turtle was found alive on Doughmore beach, Doonbeg, Co Clare last night and has been recovered for rehabilitation at Lahinch Aquarium.

The turtle was found by staff from Doonbeg Golf Club who informed the Shannon Dolphin and Wildlife Foundation based in nearby Kilrush. Neil Brown and Cathy Blake were still on the beach when Simon Berrow and Joanne O'Brien of the SDWF visited the beach and determined it to be a male loggerhead turtle with a carapace length of 50cm. This is quite large for a stranded loggerhead and although comatosed, thought it had a good chance of survival. They arranged for the turtle to be recovered to Lahinch Aquarium to attempt a rehabilitation.

Loggerhead turtles are occasionally washed up along the west coast of Ireland as well as other hard-shelled turtles such as Kemp's Ridley and the very rare Green Turtle. A recent review by Gabriel King and Simon Berrow recently documented 49 definite records of this species in Irish waters between 1971 and 2005, of which 33 were stranded individuals.

Aquariums around Ireland have good experience and a high success rate in rehabilitating these turtles and as many turtle populations are depleted or under threat rehabilitating and transporting healthy turtles to warmer waters before release is a worthy conservation action.

Lahinch Aquarium successfully rehabilitated a smaller loggerhead turtle in 2000 which had been washed up in nearby Seafield Beach. This turtle was flown to Portugal before being returned to the sea.

The turtle, if it survives, is likely to be kept at the aquarium for many months gaining weight and fitness before being released back into the sea.

We would like to thank Neil Brown, Cathy Blake and Sebastian Scholze of Doonebeg Golf Club and Lisa Hammond for informing us of the turtle straight away and Tim Ford and staff at Lahinch Aquarium for immediately providing rehabilitation facilities at short notice.

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