The Luck O’ the Loggerhead

UnaOne lucky little sea turtle got some love from Loggerhead Marinelife Center – all the way from across the pond in Ireland.

The turtle, named Úna, was found last December in southwest Ireland, after a series of severe weather systems in the north Atlantic caused many sea turtle strandings in the area. Luckily, a beachgoer named Úna Mullin, along with her father-in-law, found the turtle. They then called the Irish Society for the Protection of Animals for help.

Úna was brought to Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium for rehabilitation.

The turtle was cold-stunned and had pneumonia, along with buoyancy issues and a carapace wound. Along with her team at Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium, Dr. Shónagh O’Sullivan, a veterinary surgeon, began treatment on the loggerhead to try and resolve the issues.

Because sea turtles are a rare sighting in southwest Ireland, Dr. O’Sullivan was braced with the challenge of how to best help Úna survive. So, she decided to seek the advice of Loggerhead Marinelife Center’s director of research and rehabilitation after learning about LMC’s rehabilitation program online.

“From my research, I discovered Dr. Manire was a leader in the field of loggerhead turtle care,” said Dr. O’Sullivan. “I was encouraged by his evidenced based approach and extensive experience. It was great that despite being thousands of miles away he was ready and willing to help at a moments notice.”

After Úna gained weight, began to eat regularly, and her pneumonia resolved, the turtle was cleared for release last spring. Now, just one obstacle remained – returning Úna to warm waters.

“We couldn’t simply drop her in the ocean as our sea temperatures were still far too chilly,” said Dr. O’Sullivan. “Thankfully the Irish Navy were kind enough to help in her repatriation to warmer waters. At the time they were en-route to provide humanitarian assistance in the Mediterranean but were thankfully willing to help us too.”

Úna, along with another sea turtle named Tallula that was found in the U.K., were released off Gibraltar.

“For me, it is especially rewarding to help facilities around the world to be able to save sea turtles,” said Dr. Manire, who has more than 25 years of experience with marine animals. “We help as many sea turtles as we can here in Juno Beach, but it is great to be able to help others outside of our area. Everyone’s goal is the same – to help the sea turtles.”

Read more about Úna’s rehabilitation journey here.