Lost and cold: a stranded sea turtle rescue mission

A walk on the beach became a rescue mission for two tourists, who made an exciting discovery, a few days after New Year’s. Struggling amongst the icy cold waves, crashing on the beach of the West coast of Denmark, was a tiny loggerhead sea turtle.

The 2nd of January 2020, Den Blå Planet received a very unusual call. A small loggerhead turtle had been discovered at a beach, and was now temporarily being cared for at Blåvand Zoo. Two of the aquariums keepers were quick to hop into a van and take the long trip, throughout the night. They arrived, to the sight of a 2kg exhausted turtle, who’s journey had clearly taken an unwelcome detour.

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Out of the Danger Zone

Since that fateful day, the keepers and vet of Den Blå Planet have worked overtime to bring the turtle back to good health. Having survived freezing 2 degree waters, it was necessary to slowly bring its temperature up to 23-24 degrees. It has been treated with antibiotics for a possible lung infection, and both blood and DNA testing have been done.

Despite a slightly forlorn look and a few failed attempts at biting the vet, the turtle has handled the poking and prodding, very calmly. Living in its new tank, the turtle is getting the rest and care it needs to hopefully make a full recovery. Its future adventures are still not known, and the staff continue to focus on the its well-being.

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The Cosmopolitan Turtle

Loggerhead turtles are known for their international travel status, covering thousands of kilometres in their lifetime. Following natural occurring networks of currents, they travel across the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans as well as the Mediterranean Sea and Arabian Peninsula. Studies have shown that using the invisible lines of the earth’s magnetic fields, they have a keen sense of direction, that can lead them back to the exact beaches where they were born.

It is unclear what caused the stranded turtle to veer off course, but it is not the first time. Over the last 100 years, 5 different loggerheads have shown up at the Danish coast. This includes a turtle named Lucky, who after 5 years, was released into the wild, and was able to join its natural migration routes once again.

The stranded sea turtle now living at Den Blå Planet, has caused quite a stir both within and outside of the aquarium. Thanks to the many years of experience with sea turtles, we were able to pull out all the stops to rescue the animal, from its near-death experience.

We hope the best for the little loggerhead, and continue to work hard on giving it the best conditions possible.