Cróga, a tiny loggerhead turtle, has washed up on an Irish beach after traveling thousands of miles from Miami in what has been described as "an absolute miracle."
The six-inch female turtle, which is believed to be less than a year old, was found upside down on a beach on the Belmullet Peninsula in Co Mayo on Monday, February 13.
The small reptile, which is about the size of a dinner plate, was spotted by local man Cormac de Rosta and his two daughters, who were walking on the beach.
The turtle, who has since been named Cróga (the Irish for "brave,") was taken to Achill Aquarium and later collected by Kevin Flannery, the director of Dingle's Oceanworld Aquarium in Co Kerry, who drove a 12-hour round trip to pick it up.
Hi folks, a live loggerhead sea turtle washed up in Belmullet yesterday and is now on its way to Oceanworld Aquarium...Posted by Sea Turtle Rescue and Reporting Ireland on Monday, February 13, 2023
Flannery explained how incredibly rare for a small turtle to survive the journey across the Atlantic.
"How it survived is beyond my understanding," he told RTÉ News.
"Usually, birds would have picked them off or a shark or something would have eaten it, or the cold shock from the water would have killed it," he said.
"Being so tiny, it is an absolute miracle it survived."
Meet CRÓGA (Irish for ‘brave’)the tiny loggerhead turtle found by a Co . Mayo family 10 days ago & now in the care of @dingleaquarium - Director Kevin Flannery says it is very rare for such a small turtle to be found alive after crossing the Atlantic from Florida. More @RTEnews pic.twitter.com/B6m9THDB7K— JennïeØSullivân (@OSullivanJennie) February 23, 2023
“The poor devil would have been in cold-shock and usually they don’t survive," Flannery told the Irish Examiner.
"They are marine reptiles and need warm water of 20C plus.
"They hatch out in the Gulf of Mexico and spend a few years in the Sargasso Sea in the weed off Miami. When they are older and strong enough they drift over to the Canaries."
However, some turtles become displaced from great storms that hit the US, Flannery said, with some of them going into cold shock and being carried by the wind and sea.
"A lot get washed ashore in the Carolinas and up the east coast of the States and a lot of the aquariums there take them in and they replenish them and rehydrate them and get them back," Flannery told the Examiner.
"But sometimes we get a few washed ashore on the west coast of Ireland. If we can get them in time we get the temperature back up extremely slowly and we get a saline solution into them and get them back feeding."
Flannery said the turtle has already put on nine ounces since its rescue, adding that it will be released in the warmer waters of the Canary Islands once it is strong enough.
Oceanworld Aquarium has since shared some tips on what to do if you happen upon a loggerhead turtle:
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