By Shannon Lane @shannonroselane

A YOUNG turtle with only three flippers has exceeded expectations and migrated across the ocean

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Videographer / director: Equinac
Producer:  Shannon Lane, Ruby Coote
Editor: Thom Johnson

 

The loggerhead turtle was rescued on 12 July 2016 by environmental non-profit organisation Equinac, off the coast of Spain.

At the time of discovery, the endangered animal, who rescuers have called Benjamin, had an almost-dead fin due to it being entangled in fishing equipment.

Sadly, there was nothing that could be done to save the flipper, so the organisation chose to amputate the limb.

Eva Morón, co-ordinator at Equinac told Barcroft Animals: "Benjamin became almost like part of the family, as he spent two whole years with Equinac. This was to allow plenty of time for him to heal, learn how to swim properly with just three flippers, and for him to grow in size.

"He grew up to 50 cm in shell length, and tripled his weight!"

When it came time to release him back into the wild, the team decided to fit a tracking device to his shell.

Eva said: "This device transmits a lot of interesting data, but our main goal was to simply check that he was surviving and see where he was travelling to.

"Most sea turtles in the Mediterranean come from Florida, and they can see many countries in their long lives, so who knows where Benjamin would head to!"

When the transmitter arrived, the Universidad Politécnica of Valencia collaborated with Equinac and aided in fixing it to the upper shell. Benjamin was released on the 23 of July, over two years after initially being rescued.

The transmitter on his back will last up to two years, and Equinac will be continually checking to see where he is.

He was released in Cabo de Gata Natural Park in the Mediterranean, and has already travelled further than the team at Equinac ever expected.

Eva said: "Surprisingly, the turtle has succeeded and has crossed the Strait of Gibraltar. It is in the Atlantic, which is remarkable bearing in mind that it has accomplished this with a missing fin.

"It is the first turtle that has been documented to succeed in this migration, all the way from Cabo de Gata in Almería and out into the Atlantic. The Strait of Gibraltar is a difficult place for wildlife to migrate through, due to the amount of ship traffic and really strong surface currents heading into the Mediterranean.

"Our hope is that we can 'stay in touch' with him for the full two years, and that he is surviving and travelling like any wild sea turtle would do.

"This would be amazing news for sea turtle science, but would also be fantastic for the people who cared for him continually for two whole years.”