Baby Turtle Survives Treacherous 4K-Mile Swim

Croga, which means 'brave' in Irish, drifted far off course, from Miami to Ireland
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 24, 2023 4:40 PM CST
Baby Turtle That Drifted 4K Miles an 'Absolute Miracle'
A different loggerhead sea turtle named Rocky is released into the Atlantic Ocean on Feb. 15 in Juno Beach, Florida.   (AP Photo/Cody Jackson)

A father taking a stroll with his two daughters along the Irish coastline stumbled across what one expert is now calling an "absolute miracle." The Irish Mirror reports that the family was walking on the shore of the northwestern Mullet Peninsula in County Mayo when they came across a young female loggerhead turtle, beached upside down on the rocks. And it didn't look like the turtle—which the Mirror says was 6 inches long, or about the "size of a dinner plate"—was doing so hot. The Washington Post reports she was dehyrated, suffering from hypothermia, and registered an alarming weight: Although turtles her age typically weigh anywhere between 45 and 90 pounds, she came in at just about a pound, says Kevin Flannery of the Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium, who was called in by locals to help the turtle.

Loggerhead turtles nest in the southeast US, scramble into the water after hatching on beaches, and spend a few years floating in seaweed off Miami, before making a final journey to the warm waters of the Canary Islands, off the west coast of Africa, Flannery explains. Occasionally, however, turtles will get swept off course by storms, with some of those off-track turtles ending up near their starting point, while others drift into colder northern waters, which are dangerous to the cold-blooded reptiles. That means this baby turtle traveled 4,000 miles through the treacherous waters of the Atlantic, surrounded by predators like sharks and birds, as well as plastics that could be harmful if ingested. "How it survived is beyond my understanding," Flannery tells RTE. And the Post notes the turtle, which is thought to be less than a year old, was indeed close to death.

That is, until Flannery swooped in. After he made the 12-hour round trip to pick her up and bring her to the aquarium, he injected one of her flippers with saline to hydrate her, rubbed Vaseline into her shell where it had been damaged, and very slowly raised her body temperature over several days to prevent shock. Now the turtle—named Croga, the Irish word for "brave"—weighs in at almost 3 pounds and is eating "voraciously," according to Flannery. She'll recuperate for a couple of months with Flannery, and once he can make sure she doesn't have any diseases, he plans to fill out the proper documents to arrange for a drop-off by the Irish Naval Service in the warm waters off the Canary Islands—her original destination. She's expected to make a full recovery. (More turtles stories.)

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