Co.Down sanctuary takes in critically ill turtle hundreds of miles from home

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A critically ill rare turtle is being cared for at a Co Down seal sanctuary.

The young loggerhead turtle was found by a father and daughter off the coast of Co Donegal in the Irish Republic on Sunday.

It is believed the turtle got lost after being carried hundreds of miles by the Gulf Stream from its native warmer waters to the west coast of Ireland.

A spokeswoman for Exploris Aquarium said its seal rescue team made a five-hour trip from to Donegal from their Portaferry base in the early hours of Monday after receiving reports of the stranded turtle.

She described the incident as very rare for Northern Ireland.

The condition of the turtle has been described as "critical" and it is receiving round-the-clock care for cold stunning.

"Juvenile loggerhead turtles should be in the middle of the Atlantic in warm waters where there is plenty of food, not returning to shores until they are approximately seven to 12 years old," she said.

"The individual currently at Portaferry is likely to have been caught in the Gulf Stream, travelling several hundred miles away from its home."

Aquarium curator Peter Williams has issued an appeal to the public to watch for any other loggerhead turtles off the Irish coast.

"If you come across anything please get in touch with Exploris Aquarium immediately on 028 4272 8062," he said.

The aquarium says that due to its critical condition the loggerhead cannot be seen by visitors.

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