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Tropical sea turtle Tally making good progress at Anglesey Sea Zoo

05 Dec 2021 4 minutes Read
Kemps Ridley turtle. Anglesey Sea Zoo

Vets say ‘Tally’ the turtle, found stranded on Talacre beach near Rhyl a week ago, is starting to show positive signs of recovery and activity.

Tally was found alive by a member of the public and was transferred to the Anglesey Sea Zoo for specialist intensive care.

According to the team who are carefully managing the turtle’s rehabilitation in strict quarantine, Tally is gradually increasing voluntary movements and appears to be strong, and blood test results show no underlying cause for concern.

After a very gradual initial increase in daily ambient temperature over the last week, the patient is now approaching the natural temperature for a Kemps Ridley turtle and staff are cautiously hopeful that Tally may continue to rally in the next few days.

Kemps Ridley turtles (Lepidochelys kempii) are the world’s rarest species of turtle and critically endangered. They are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) regulations.

There are just two known breeding sites remaining for the species globally, both in the western Gulf of Mexico, making every individual extremely precious.

Celyn Thorpe, the vet treating Tally from Bennett Williams Vets in Gaerwen, Anglesey, says: “The blood tests have revealed no concerning abnormalities other than the effects of Tally’s exhaustion and the metabolic stress induced by the cold temperatures.

“Our first treatment aims are to give broad spectrum antibiotics, to protect this debilitated patient against any bacterial infections.

“Tally’s condition means that the immune system is weakened and less able to protect him or her from disease. We are also giving rehydration therapy and some vitamin injections to support Tally until he or she is at a temperature where we’re able to feed them conventionally.”

Strandings

Tropical sea turtles should not be found around North Wales. The only native species of sea turtle here is the world’s largest species, the Leatherback Turtle, which is common between May and September when it visits our coasts to feed on the swarms of large jellyfish.

Tropical turtles such as the Kemps Ridley are more commonly found in temperatures of 25oC and above and at this time of year local sea temperatures approximately 8oC are far too cold for these tropical species to tolerate.

This juvenile turtle, still too young to be easily determined as male or female, is thought to have lost its way whilst journeying through warmer seas further south in the Atlantic, probably due to the recent strong wind and currents caused by storm Arwen.

Ms. Frankie Hobro, Director and Owner of the Anglesey Sea Zoo says: “We are extremely grateful for the amount of public support we have had since announcing Tally’s arrival and we would like to thank everyone for the well wishes and encouragement we are receiving for Tally.

“We would like to remind members of the public to remain vigilant in quickly report any turtle they encounter on a beach as strandings in the UK are becoming more common after winter storms.

“Stranded turtles often appear dead when they are in fact in a state of torpor, or physiological ‘shut down’ due to the low temperatures, and if this is the case they may be revived and can make a full recovery under the right conditions if they are rescued quickly.

“We are very pleased with Tally’s progress so far and we are now becoming hopeful if this continues that Tally may make a full recovery so that he or she can be flown back to Mexico and released in warmer waters and back in the wild where it belongs”.

Anglesey Sea Zoo runs a voluntary Marine Animal Rescue facility to attend any stranded or injured marine animals.

Members of the public should not touch turtles or try to return the animals to the water if they find them, as this is likely to kill them, but they should contact British Divers Marine Life Rescue, the RSPCA or the Anglesey Sea Zoo Marine Animal Rescue facility directly.

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