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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 April 2006, 21:42 GMT 22:42 UK
Washed up turtle set to jet out
Myrtle the turtle
Myrtle was feared dead when she was found washed up on a beach
A turtle washed up on a Western Isles beach is just days away from setting off on the final leg of an incredible journey back to the wild.

Dubbed Myrtle by her rescuers, the loggerhead turtle was found close to death in North Uist two years ago.

She had lost her front right flipper in a suspected shark attack.

But after intensive care in Scotland and England, Myrtle is to be flown to Gran Canaria on 24 April and released into the Atlantic Ocean.

She is one of four rescued turtles taken to the Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary near Oban in the last four-and-half years, but the only one to survive.

The others were washed up on Tiree and Canna.

Displays supervisor Jamie Dyer said when Myrtle was found in June 2004, it was feared she was dead.

He said: "Myrtle was in a very bad way when she washed up on a beach in North Uist.

Myrtle's journey

"Her front right flipper was missing and the right side of her shell was chewed. It looked like she had been attacked by a shark.

"The injuries were not fresh and may have been inflicted two months earlier and had become infected."

Myrtle's home is the Atlantic Ocean off West Africa, but she is believed to have been brought to Scotland on the Gulf Stream.

The warm ocean current provides loggerheads with a rich supply of their main food - jellyfish.

Mr Dyer said Myrtle was malnourished as well as badly injured.

He said: "When the Gulf Stream reaches Scotland it cools down and in those low temperatures a turtle stops feeding and starts to hibernate.

"Myrtle's eyes had shrinked back into her head and she was dehydrated and had to raise her temperature by one degree a day.

"At first we could only let her swim in a tank for four-five hours and then drained the water overnight.

"In the end she was able to sleep in water, but we still had to keep an eye on her to make sure she did not drown."

'A fighter'

After three months at the sanctuary, Myrtle was fit enough to be transported to an ocean tank at Scarborough Sea Life Centre.

She is now fit enough to be returned to the wild.

Myrtle will be flown in a crate 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.

Mr Dyer said: "It is amazing she survived. She's a fighter."

Myrtle the turtle is ocean bound
11 Apr 06 |  Scotland


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