Battle To Save Stranded Sea Turtle

Marine experts at the Scottish SEA LIFE Sanctuary in Oban are battling to save the life of a loggerhead sea turtle found stranded in Troon on 6th December 2015.

The two-foot-long loggerhead turtle was exhausted and hypothermic when found by dog-walkers.

Christened Harley after the dog that found him, one half of his shell was coated in goose barnacles, which have now been carefully removed.
Harley on Irvine Beach. He was there for 2 days before anyone to call for help
Anna Price, from the Oban SEA LIFE Sanctuary gets to work removing the goose barnacles Rushed to the Oban sanctuary by the SSPCA, Harley´s initial veterinary inspection revealed his body temperature was a dangerously low 10-degrees.

"Harley was barely alive, said curator Mark Hind. The vet got some fluids into him and we are now raising his temperature very slowly until we get him up to a healthy 23 degrees."
"He was given no more than a 50-50 chance of survival initially, but has already responded well to the care he is receiving and is beginning to move his head and eyes."

Harley is being cared for in a dry quarantine tank until well enough to be moved into warm sea-water, which will take at least a week.
Cleaned off and ready to go
Battle To Save Stranded Sea Turtle Harley has a stunted front right-side flipper which may have hindered him on his annual migration from the eastern seaboard of the US across the Atlantic to the Canary Islands.

"That may have resulted in him being forced off course by the Gulf Stream, and led to him growing gradually weaker as he entered colder and colder waters," said Mark.
Harley is the third loggerhead to have been cared for by the SEA LIFE Sanctuary, following earlier casualties Picasso in the early 1990s and Myrtle, who was found washed up on North Uist in June 2004.

Like Picasso and Myrtle, Harley will eventually be flown to Gran Canaria for release back on his migration route if he makes a full recovery.

Photo right: Another Turtle named Skye was rescued on 20th July 2006 - Photo courtesy of Peter Elford
Turtle named Skye was rescued in July 2006
One of seven sea turtle species which are all endangered, due mainly to loss of nest habitat and drowning in commercial fishing nets, loggerheads can live to around 60 years of age.

Harley´s size suggests he is at least 10 years old, which means he will not reach sexual maturity for another 15 to 20 years.

Harley will have a more thorough veterinary inspection once he is safely on the road to recovery.

"It is not uncommon for turtles to ingest fish hooks or swallow plastic bags, mistaking them for jellyfish," said Mark, "both of which can lead to a slow and agonising death."

Press Release issued by The Scottish SEA LIFE Sanctuary
For more details, please contact Kirsty Morrison on 01389 721500
Date: 8th December 2015

Update - 9th December 2015 : A statement posted on facebook by the Scottish SEA LIFE Sanctuary "Unfortunately we have some sad news today. We discovered today that Harley the Loggerhead had died overnight.

Harley´s condition was critical when he arrived at the Sanctuary. His body temperature had plummeted from the normal 23 degrees to 10 degrees, and a veterinary check confirmed he was hypothermic and badly dehydrated. He was given vital fluids intravenously and staff had begun very gradually raising Harley´s temperature, by just a degree each day, so as not to send him into shock.

Initial signs were encouraging and we were hopeful Harley would eventually make a full recovery. However, we don´t know how long Harley had lain unnoticed on a very quiet stretch of the beach at Irvine, and he may have been there for days. It´s quite feasible that help just didn´t arrive soon enough.

We would like to use this opportunity to appeal to members of the public to be on the alert in case there are other stranded turtles, and to contact the Sanctuary on 01631 720386 immediately should any be found."