Submitted by Steve on 12:24, 7th Sep, 2016 | 0

The GSPCA are excited to report that Olivia the loggerhead turtle is doing extremely well in Gran Canaria and has been released back to the wild on Tuesday 6th September 2016.

Here are some youtube videos and extra photos of Olivia being released to the wild -

On Thursday, 28th July 2016 the GSPCA undertook one of its biggest moves, the last stage in the rescue and rehabilitation of Olivia.

Olivia, a large loggerhead turtle, finally traveled south at the end of July to complete the rehabilitation process prior to release in the warm waters off Gran Canaria which took place during August 2016.

Olivia, who nearly died back in March was found in cold shock on a wintery beach on the west coast of Guernsey.  If the GSPCA had not been alerted and been able to rescue her quickly she would have surely died.

Olivia was emaciated and severely dehydrated and had recently lost a front flipper, probably the result of a propeller injury.  She was taken to the Animal Shelter in St Andrews where she has been expertly cared for, and nursed back to health.

Thankfully the team are very experienced with marine animals: they have been involved with caring for and rehabilitated seals (including ‘Bonnie’ the seal pup in 2016), dolphins and a green turtle (‘Murtle’) over 13 years ago, she was also taken to Gran Canaria.

Olivia’s chances were hugely helped by with local vet, GSPCA President and Senior Veterinary Consultant for the Born Free Foundation John Knight, who has many years experience rescuing and caring for exotic and wild animals.

After being rescued from the 7C Guernsey sea, and a number of weeks in intensive care during which she was treated and slowly warmed, we managed to set up a pool at the Shelter thanks to the generosity of many local businesses.

Within the pool she grew stronger every day, her appetite quickly returned and she eat everything that was put in front of her. Olivia enjoyed a wonderful diet, favourite being squid from Waitrose who were very kind in their support.

It took a few months to arrange, but in July she was ready to go: the legal documents had been stamped and signed off, including the international CITES legislation.

The travel box (custom made to IATA standards) was complete, and on 28th July her journey took place.

We flew her from Guernsey via Gatwick and on to her final destination Gran Canaria.

PetAir Uk worked very closely with the GSPCA to find the best route for Olivia. The journey was made possible through the generous and kind support of both our wonderful local airline Aurigny and Thomson Airways who each helped us with her move.

Olivia's journey all went to plan and team members Sarah Ozanne, Steve Byrne and Geoff George were at strategic placed thanks to the support of the airlines to ensure the smooth move and hand over of the beautiful endangered turtle.

GSPCA Manager Steve Byrne and Animal Collection Officer Geoff George were in Gran Canaria to hand over Olivia to team for Centro de Recuperación de Fauna Silvestre, go through her care whilst at the GSPCA, her behaviour and helped with her move to the fantastic centre in Las Palmas.

The GSPCA team were only in Gran Canaria for a few hours but in that time they spent it helping and learning about the 30 turtles at the Centro de Recuperación de Fauna Silvestre as well as helping to settle Olivia into her new temporary home.

Olivia was at Centro de Recuperación de Fauna Silvestre in Las Palmas for just over a month and was doing so well it was decided to release her at 12.30pm 6th September 2016.

She was released on a beach called Playa El Burrero on the southeast coast of Gran Canaria and the team at the GSPCA were very excited to see the pictures and video clips.

A huge thank you to everyone that has supported us in the care of Olivia and have contributed towards her trip south to the warmer waters where she belongs and especially to the team at Centro de Recuperación de Fauna Silvestre who are released her back to the wild.

Steve Byrne, GSPCA Manager said, “After months of care and the rehabilitation of Olivia, the loggerhead turtle were extremely excited at the GSPCA that to see her back in the wild where she belongs.”

“Back in March Olivia would have surely died if she hadn’t been rescued and had the care she received at the GSPCA.”

“She was so weak, dehydrated and emaciated: she could not even raise her head.”

“From what was a turtle taking potentially her last breathes, to seeing her lively and active nature is a joy and it was a joy to transport her at the end of July to the rescue centre called the Centro de Recuperación de Fauna Silvestre in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria where they have now released her back to the wild.”

“Her care has been a testament to the caring and loving nature of the Guernsey community.”

“We have had so many donations of things she has needed: from her pool from Spa de la Mare to the padding for her travel box from Graham Scott & Co.”

“From the GSPCA to everyone involved we really appreciated all of the donations and support: from the sea water delivered at short notice by States Works, to the amazing veterinary services from the Vetcare Centres and Vets4Pets, not to mention all of the media support she has had to help raise the funds and items to care for her.”

“We would also like to especially thank Waitrose for the squid that she enjoyed so much.”

“It has been a huge undertaking looking after Olivia and finding the transport costs was without doubt been the biggest challenge, but thankfully with the help from Petair, Aurigny and Thomsons Airways, Olivia was able to head south.”

“We had some sleepless nights at the GSPCA caring for Olivia and it was very emotional and tiring as we got Olivia to Gran Canaria in July and again emotions are running high as she in now back in the wild which we are so pleased to see.”

Geoff George, Animal Collection Officer at the GSPCA who was also Olivia’s rescuer and carer, said “It was a long journey to get Olivia to the point where she was able to fly to Gran Canaria after finding her so close to death on Vazon beach.”

“I traveled out to help with the transfer of Olivia at the rescue centre in Gran Canaria and both Steve and I spent the few hours we were in Gran Canaria helping at the centre and making sure Olivia was settled.”

“It was wonderful to get her to where she belongs and to pass on how she was at the GSPCA and to know that today she is now back in the wild makes all the sleepless nights worth while.”

"We have all loved seeing the pictures and videos of her release and a special thank you to the team at Centro de Recuperación de Fauna Silvestre for the last month of her care and returning her where she belongs."

The GSPCA are hugely grateful to Vet Pascual Calubuig who with the team at Centro de Recuperación de Fauna Silvestre have cared for Olivia and transporting her to the beach to release her at 12.30pm 6th September 2016

Olivia was the largest turtle at the rescue in Centro de Recuperación de Fauna Silvestre when we took her there in July and they have over 30 turtles in their care from some which are extremely badly injured.

Loggerhead turtle facts

Common Name: Loggerhead - named for its exceptionally large head.

Scientific Name: Caretta caretta

Description: Head is very large with heavy strong jaws. Carapace is bony without ridges and has large, non-overlapping, rough scutes (scales) present with 5 lateral scute. Carapace is heart shaped. Front flippers are short and thick with 2 claws, while the rear flippers can have 2 or 3 claws. Carapace is a reddish-brown with a yellowish-brown plastron.

Hatchlings have a dark-brown carapace with flippers pale brown on margins.

Size/Weight/Age: The Loggerhead measures up to 1.1 meters (3.5 ft) long when fully grown, weighing approximately 135 kilograms (300 lb) and have a lifespan of 47-67 years.

Diet: The Loggerhead turtle is omnivorous, but it feeds mainly on bottom dwelling invertebrates: molluscs, crustaceans, horseshoe crabs, clams, mussels, and other marine animals. Its large and powerful jaws serve as a very effective tool in dismantling its prey.

Habitat: Prefers to feed in coastal bays and estuaries, as well as in the shallow water along the continental shelves of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Reproduction: Female Loggerheads, between the age of 17 to 33, will usually mate every 2 to 4 years.

Crawl Pattern: 1) Alternating comma-shaped flipper marks 2) Wavy and smoothed track center with no thin, straight, and well-defined tail-drag mark 3) No regular marking from front flippers at the margins of the track

Nesting: Female loggerheads are known to nest from one to seven times within a nesting season (mean is about 4.1 nests per season) at intervals of approximately 12–17 days. Mean clutch size varies from about 100 to 126 along the southeastern United States coast. Incubation ranges from about 45 to 95 days, depending on incubation temperatures, but averages 55 to 60 days for most clutches.

International Status - Listed as Vunerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources ( IUCN)

Threats to Survival: Fishing gear is the biggest threat to loggerheads in the open ocean. They often become entangled in longlines or gillnets. According to the 2009 status review of loggerheads by the Fisheries Service, drowning from entanglement in longline and gillnet fishing gear is the turtles’ primary threat in the North Pacific. The second greatest threat is loss of nesting habitat due to coastal development, predation of nests, and human disturbances (such as coastal lighting and housing developments) that discourages nesting and interferes with the hatchlings' ability to navigate to the water's edge

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