Miracle needed for 100-year-old turtle

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A 100-year-old turtle was last night being cared for in a wildlife refuge after it became entangled in lobster-pot ropes off the Shetland Islands.

A 100-year-old turtle was last night being cared for in a wildlife refuge after it became entangled in lobster-pot ropes off the Shetland Islands.

The 7ft leatherback male turtle fell into a coma when it was bought ashore through the shock of being on dry land for probably the first time in its life.

Jim Strachan, captain of the Bold Venture fishing boat that found it caught up in ropes at the weekend, said it was impossible to untangle it at sea.

"There was so much rope wrapped round its flippers and neck that we couldn't just let it go. It would have been knackered," he said.

The creature was towed instead to a pier, where it took six men with lifting gear to haul it out of the water. From there it was taken to the Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary, run by Pete Bevington and his wife Jan. Mr Bevington said the turtle was estimated to be at least 100 years old and would have spent its whole life in water - making this, its first time out of the sea, a stressful time.

Mr Bevington said: "It has gone into a sort of coma. When they go into a stressful situation they can shut down for quite a long time - days even." The only sign of life is the salty tears that turtles ooze from their eyes.

Mr Bevington said the turtle was being kept moist and warm, but added: "We have been hoping and praying, but basically it would take a miracle for it to survive now."

He said staff at the sanctuary have named the turtle Osiris, after an Egyptian god who died and was brought back to life by Isis. Leatherback turtles can grow up to 9ft and are usually found in warm water, although there have been more than 100 suspected sightings around Scotland.

Comments