Submitted by Steve on 23:42, 26th Jul, 2016 | 0

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

Olivia, a large loggerhead turtle, is finally traveling south to complete the rehabilitation process prior to release in the warm waters off Gran Canaria.

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 this year), 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 has grown stronger every day, her appetite quickly returned and she now eats everything that is put in front of her. Olivia enjoys a wonderful diet, favourite being squid from Waitrose who have been very kind in their support.

It has taken a few months to arrange, but we are now ready to go: the legal documents have been stamped and signed off, including the international CITES legislation.

The travel box (custom made to IATA standards) is now complete, and this Thursday her journey begins, we fly her from Guernsey via Gatwick and on to her final destination Gran Canaria.

PetAir Uk have been working very closely with the GSPCA over the last few weeks to find the best route for Olivia.  We are pleased to announce that this has been made possible through the generous and kind support of both our wonderful local airline Aurigny and Thomson Airways who are each helping us with her move.

Systems are all go in the preparations for Thursday and Olivia has just had her last full water change thanks to States Works who have been bringing fresh seawater to the Shelter for her.

Once Olivia is at the Centro de Recuperación de Fauna Silvestre in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria their experienced team will take over, and once they are satisfied that she has got over her journey and is fit enough she will be released back to the wild.

We are hoping that her story won’t end upon her release on a beach in the Canaries.  We are currently in talks with groups that may be able to help with a tracking device for when she is released to the wild.

A huge thank you to everyone that has supported us in the care of Olivia and have contibuted towards her trip south to the warmer waters where she belongs.  We look forward updating you with her final steps back to the wild.

Steve Byrne, GSPCA Manager said, “After months of care and the rehabilitation of Olivia, the loggerhead turtle, we are now ready to return her to warmer waters 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 as 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 now seeing her lively and active nature is a joy and we are so excited about transporting her on Thursday to a rescue centre called the Centro de Recuperación de Fauna Silvestre in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.”

“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.”

“The GSPCA everyone involved and we really do appreciate 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 enjoys so much.”

“It has been a huge undertaking looking after Olivia and finding the transport costs have without doubt been the biggest challenge, but thankfully with the help from Petair, Aurigny and Thomsons Airways, Olivia will be heading south this Thursday.”

“We have all had some sleepless nights at the GSPCA caring for Olivia and it will be an emotional time over the next few days as we get Olivia to where she truly belongs.”

“We will of course update everyone over the next few days as soon as we can.”

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

“It has taken so many months.”

“I will be traveling out to help with the transfer of Olivia at the rescue centre in Gran Canaria.”

“It will be wonderful to get her to where she belongs and to pass on how she has been at the GSPCA.”

“We will all miss her, she has been a joy to look after.”

Sarah Ozanne GSPCA Animal Care Assistant said “We are all busy getting ready to transport Olivia on Thursday and I’m caring for her on her first leg from Guernsey to Gatwick.”

“It will be exciting taking her on the Aurigny flight, though it will be with some sadness as we have all fallen in love with her at the GSPCA.”

“To have cared for a loggerhead turtle will be with us all for the rest of our lives and we are all so proud we have helped this endangered and beautiful creature.”

Euan Mahy, Aurigny Media Relations Manager, said “Aurigny was approached by both the GSPCA in Guernsey and PetAir UK to ask if we could carry Olivia and GSPCA staff on our Gatwick service.”

“Naturally we said we’d do our best and after a lot of background work involving our freight and UK managers, we’re delighted to be able to carry this out.”

Malcom Coupar, Aurigny’s Commercial Director says: “We’re a community airline and we try to help as much as we can when we get requests like this.”

“Olivia’s probably one of the most unusual “passengers” we’ve carried recently but all the correct procedures are in place to make sure it happens safely.”

“Everyone at Aurigny wishes Olivia well, and in the nicest sense, let’s hope she doesn’t come back to Guernsey!”

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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