Turtle "Myrtle" cleared for Take Off

A sea turtle that was nursed back from the brink of death by animal care staff at the Scottish SEA LIFE Sanctuary is set to return to the wild.

Loggerhead turtle Myrtle is to jet off to Gran Canaria on Monday, 24th of April 2006, to be released back into the Atlantic Ocean.

Myrtle, who was missing a flipper (presumably bitten off by a shark) was originally washed up on North Uist in the Western Isles in June 2004.

"She was in a really bad way," said SEA LIFE displays supervisor Jamie Dyer. "She was clearly malnourished, she was hypothermic from days in much colder waters than she was used to, and she also had some nasty infections."

Myrtle´s initial care involved round-the-clock monitoring, tube feeding, courses of antibiotics and very gradual raising of her body temperature.

"It was a long haul, but eventually she was strong enough to feed herself, her eyes cleared and she was able to swim again in a shallow quarantine tank," said Jamie.

More than three months after her initial rescue, she was declared fit enough to move to Scarborough to complete her convalescence in the big ocean tank.

Fittingly, she will be accompanied on her flight to freedom by both Jamie and Scarborough SEA LIFE´s Lyndsey Crawford, who has overseen Myrtle´s care since her move south of the border.

Myrtle has already been fitted with a special identification tag on her left shoulder to help identify her if she encounters humans again in the future.

She will be flown to Las Palmas from Manchester Airport and spend a night in a turtle hospital at the Centro de Recuperation de Fauna on the outskirts of Gran Canaria´s capital. Provided she shows no signs of any adverse reaction to her journey she will be released into the surf on a quiet nearby beach in the early hours of the following morning.

"It will be a very poignant moment when she swims away to freedom," said Jamie. "It will be more than ample reward for the long weeks of intensive care, and all the sleepless nights suffered when she first came to us. "I´m so glad I will be there in person to see her return to the wild."

For more details, please contact Jamie Dyer on 01631 720386

Press Release date: 10th April 2006

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