By Laura Kemp • 15 September 2021 • 14:59
Aer Lingus is flying an endangered 25 KG turtle that washed up in Co Donegal to Gran Canaria today, September 15, hoping that it will be able to thrive in the warm Canary waters.
The loggerhead sea turtle, lovingly named Julius Caesar or JC because of his fighting spirit, was discovered by a local family on a beach in Donegal in 2019 when he was only nine months old.
Loggerhead sea turtles are “the living representatives of a group of reptiles that has existed on Earth and travelled our seas for the last 100 million years”, according to the World Wildlife Fund and are an endangered species.
It’s though that JC ended up in Ireland after being “caught in the wrong current and swept along the Gulf Stream. He was suffering from hypothermia, stunned by the cold water, and weighed just a few hundred grams”, according to the airline and Exploris Aquarium, in Co Down, where he has been recovering.
He now weighs 25kg and could reach 100kg by the time he is fully grown.
The turtle will be taken back to the Canaries on an Aer Lingus flight and travel in a waterproof crate in the cabin of the plane. After landing, JC will be taken to Tarifa wildlife recovery centre.
The flight’s captain, Peter Lumsden, says, “Keeping the turtle’s temperature above 19 degrees is critical to his wellbeing, and he requires regular monitoring and shell lubrication, so placing him in the aircraft hold was not an option. His specially designed crate will be securely strapped across a number of seats in the cabin. Like all of us on the flight today, I’m sure he is looking forward to the warmer climate upon landing.”
JC will be cared for by Pascual Calabuig, a vet at the recovery centre, who will monitor his behaviour, feeding and condition before releasing him into the sea later in the week.
Aer Lingus repatriated another rogue loggerhead, Leona, to Gran Canaria in 2014 when she was discovered in Co Clare in 2013.
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Originally from UK, Laura is based in Axarquia and is a writer for the Euro Weekly News covering news and features.
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