Page last updated at 14:31 GMT, Monday, 4 August 2008 15:31 UK

26th rare turtle found washed up

It is hoped Nemo, the loggerhead turtle, will swim again in the ocean

A rare loggerhead turtle rescued from the sea off Gower, south Wales is thought to be the 26th to be found in UK waters this year.

The female turtle - named Nemo - has been transferred to the Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay, Cornwall.

The turtle, which is missing its front left flipper and which has damage to its right front flipper, was found floating in water, covered in seaweed.

If Nemo recovers, she will be flown to the Canary Islands and released.

Drew Cunliffe, a spokesman for Blue Reef Aquarium, praised a passing boat crew and her rescuers for "saving her life" on Saturday.

Eight loggerhead turtles were recovered in the UK last year, I have a feeling that Nemo is the 26th this year
Drew Cunliffe, Blue Reef Aquarium

He said: "There was so much (seaweed) growth on her and she was floating quite high in the water.

"She was motionless. The crew did exactly the right thing and contacted the RSPCA."

Nemo is also missing part of her right flipper - but these are old injuries, said Mr Cunliffe.

"There are no obvious injuries to her and there is no damage to her head - she is now in a quarantine tank," he added.

Nemo now needs to put on weight and experts are raising the water temperature around her slowly.

She is also on antibiotics.

"As long as there are no medical issues and she is given a clean bill of health by the vet and marine experts, then she will be flown to the Canary Islands for release," said Mr Cunliffe.

Stormy weather

Nemo has joined Flash - another loggerhead turtle which was washed up on the beach at Ogmore-by-Sea, near Bridgend - at the centre.

Nemo is 20kg and around three times bigger than Flash who was discovered upside down on the beach on 19 July.

Mr Cunliffe said the number of loggerhead turtles seen in British waters had increased dramatically on last year.

"I think someone said eight loggerhead turtles were recovered in the UK last year, I have a feeling that Nemo is the 26th this year," he said.

Mr Cunliffe said it could be that the loggerheads turtles are following a food source or that stormy weather is causing them to go off-course.

Loggerheads (Caretta caretta) are categorised as endangered on the internationally recognised Red List of Threatened Species.

They breed in the northwest Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean coasts.

But colder waters can make turtles lethargic and unable to feed. Eventually they can starve to death.

Washed up turtle making recovery
30 Jul 08 |  South West Wales

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