Page last updated at 17:38 GMT, Friday, 22 January 2010

Disabled turtles arrive at Dorset care home

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The turtles explore their new surroundings

Five severely disabled turtles have completed a 4,700-mile journey to their new long-term home at a marine park in Dorset.

The Florida sea turtles, whose injuries range from paraplegia to shells damaged in collisions with boats, have all lost the ability to dive.

They will receive intensive care at Weymouth Sea Life Park having travelled for 24 hours from their Florida home.

The turtles had to move to free up space for other casualties.

Described as "floaters", the disabled turtles, which weigh 60kg (130lbs) each, are unable to stay submerged without assistance.

Just as scuba-divers wear weight-belts to stop them bobbing to the surface, they carry weights stuck to their shells with fibreglass.

'Serious hazards'

They arrived at the Heathrow Animal Reception Centre, Middlesex, on Thursday and went through quarantine before embarking on the road to the purpose-built turtle sanctuary in Dorset.

"They needed a new home to free up space for new casualties at the Florida facility," said Sea Life displays supervisor Fiona Smith.

"The extent of their disabilities has forced us to make changes to our oceantank to make it easier to get them in and out and administer veterinary care," she added.

"They will need a great deal of care and attention, but will also help us inform visitors about the serious hazards these creatures face in the wild, and the reasons why all seven sea turtle species are endangered."

It took 13 people and more than £20,000 to bring the creatures to the UK.



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